As narcissists grow older, their lives rarely get easier. They are now paying for the mistakes of their younger years: bad financial, employment, home, family, and personal decisions are now taking their toll. (For more about narcissists aging, click here.) Based on all of these years of inability to make wise decisions, do narcissists die early? Often, the answer is yes, they can die significantly earlier than they normally would have had they lived a better life. That doesn’t mean that they won’t grow old, though. While some narcissists may die a very early and tragic death for the unfortunate decisions they make, others may live extremely long lives relatively speaking, but not the full life they would have lived under more normal circumstances.
Let’s take a look at what that looks like in detail.
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What the Studies Say
So, to qualify this point in the article, any studies regarding narcissists are going to be based on the fact that the majority of narcissists walking around are undiagnosed. It can be nearly impossible to get them to take a test because they think they are fine and everyone else is the problem. At least when they are talking to everyone else. They can’t let on that they feel insecure or terrified that someone may uncover the hidden shame they live with day by day.
My ex husband is actually one of the few diagnosed narcissists walking around. He was under the impression that I was the one being tested because we were in marital counseling and both needed to be tested so one would not feel singled out. It actually was the agency’s policy to test both spouses. But they also knew that if they told him they were testing both of us to figure out what our issues were, he would likely refuse.
All this is to say that the cross section of narcissists to study can be very slim. But one thing that makes up for it is how similarly narcissists behave. So, even though the vast majority of narcissists do not get diagnosed, we can get a good idea about how they stand based on behavioral therapy and observing the patterns in their relationships.
So, now let’s take a look at some of what the studies say.
Narcissists Die Early From High Levels of Stress
A study from researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says that men can lose 2.8 years of their life due to heavy stress, while women can lose 2.3 years of their life.
We do know that stress affects narcissists heavily. The fears of how people will perceive them, the constant manipulation and control of everything around them, and the fear that someone will discover the shame they are working so hard to hide can cause incredible amounts of stress.
The stress narcissists are under can cause many physical ailments that can lead to a shorter life. Among those are high blood pressure, insomnia, stomach issues, and depression. All of these symptoms over the long term have the potential to significantly shorten lifespan. Multiple issues together could make a difference of several years.
Narcissists Die Early When They Choose Suicide
Even though narcissists want everyone to think they are on top of the world and have everything under control, inside they are often fearing that everything can come crashing down around them. So they work even harder to manipulate things to prevent the fallout. The stress of always having to be a step ahead of the game to avoid being seen in a negative light can get to be too much. And often they can feel like they have fallen too far behind to be able to ever catch up. They end up feeling so distraught that they are going to be seen that way that they feel like they have to end it all.
Additionally, older narcissists can feel so defeated in their later years (see more about what happens to narcissists in the end here) that they decide to end it rather than face the possibility someone will see them as less than they want to be perceived. It could be that they don’t look as good as they did in their older years and they can’t do anything about aging. Or it could be that they have burned all their bridges and have to start a new life. After so many do-overs, they can be too overwhelmed or defeated to do it yet again. So they choose suicide.
Whatever it is that causes the hopelessness, we know that those feelings of hopelessness can occur more frequently with narcissists than regular society.
For more information on narcissists and suicide, you can read the study here.
Narcissists Can Die Early Because of Addictions
The final study I looked at in relation to why narcissists die early is this one in Science Direct. In short, it says that alcohol and gambling addiction frequently occur in conjunction with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because narcissism is connected to shame as well as gambling and drinking addictions, they all work in tandem with each other to bring incredible amounts of shame to the narcissist.
While social media addiction certainly won’t cause a narcissist to die early, sexual addiction certainly can. The narcissist can die from diseases related to irresponsible sexual practices, or suicide from getting caught in a sexual situation that is beyond what they can handle if word were to get out (think along the terms of the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein). When narcissists realize the whole world is about to know about their shameful behavior, it could very well be a game changer for them.
Also, while gambling addiction wouldn’t directly cause narcissists to die an earlier death than they would have, alcohol and tobacco addiction certainly would and do. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you are a narcissist or regular person in the case of alcohol and tobacco addiction. But the point here is that narcissists are generally more drawn to addictive behaviors than their non-narcissistic counterparts.
Let’s jump back into the gambling idea for one final thought. While I said gambling in and of itself won’t cause an early death, the consequences of gambling very well could cause an early death. A narcissist not being able to control himself may get so far over his head that he feels hopelessly lost. And then it brings us back to the unbearable shame that causes narcissists to commit suicide.
Narcissists Can Die Early Because of Overconfidence
It isn’t the overconfidence in itself that causes the narcissist’s early death. It is the result of brash and unreasonable decisions and actions on the part of the narcissist. They may think they can road rage or outmaneuver another vehicle on the road, causing great injury or even death to themselves or others that get caught up in the vicinity of the narcissist. They may think they are invincible and proceed to do dangerous things.
Or, in the case of covert narcissists, they may feel like they have to do crazy things so people will think they are greater, more powerful, or stronger than they really are, also resulting in injury or death. Add drinking and impaired judgment to that and you have a deadly combination.
Narcissists Can Die Early Because the Toxicity Makes them Sick
There is a Bible verse that says “a merry heart does good like medicine.” If you take that verse to its logical conclusion, the flip side is actually true as well. Living with anger, bitterness and toxicity can actually make a person sick to the point of death. It is impossible to live a toxic and negative lifestyle without it affecting one’s health profoundly over time.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there in the world of the narcissist. When narcissists abuse those closest to them (spouses, children, co-workers, etc), those people in turn can become very unhealthy. After suffering at the hands of a narcissist over the course of several years, PTSD, C-PTSD, depression, and even cancers can run rampant. Many women married to abused men have passed away earlier than they would have because their bodies and minds just couldn’t withstand the abuse anymore.
While narcissists often do die early based on poor lifestyle choices and the other contributing factors mentioned above, that doesn’t mean that they won’t grow to a ripe old age! Unfortunately, you cannot count on the fact that you won’t have to deal with your narcissist anymore because they suddenly drop dead.
Truly, the best action for you is to live your life in the way you know is best and healthy for you. The further away you are from your narcissist the better. No contact is absolutely the best. Although with children, no contact is not possible. But what is possible is being able to limit conversation to in writing or around others that can verify. Eventually, your narcissist will fade away and you will be totally free.
And even with all of the above, there are some narcissists who are so devoid of empathy or ethics that they don’t give their evil behavior or addictions a second thought. And they can be in excellent health for many years, exceeding the lifespan of everyone around them.
Further, some narcissists are so vain about their appearance and health that they do everything they can to preserve it. They can’t allow others to see them in less than stellar condition. So they meticulously guard their health. Unfortunately for them, there is no fountain of youth in reality. And someday, they will no longer be that perfect specimen of humanity.
I would love to hear your thoughts in relation to whether narcissists die early. What has been your experience? Did you have an elderly narcissistic friend or relative? How did things go for them? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Blessings and hugs,
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