Aging itself can bring about a withering, if not bursting, of the narcissistic bubble. You’re no longer a fresh young thing and are starting to develop wrinkles, bags, sags, or a gray or bald head. Your clothes don’t fit the same way they did before, and you find you can no longer squeeze into your favorite skinny jeans, no matter what you do. Then there’s the inevitable “ma’am” or “sir” that the barista uses in referring to you (yes you, not the person behind you).
The factors that cause the narcissistic bubble to retreat and burst were addressed in an astute article by Eda Goldstein in 1995. Goldstein described what happens somewhere in the middle years when narcissists come to grips with their own failings, exposing their weaknesses to themselves. They can become both enraged and ashamed.