The growth-producing process by which these patients are able to internalize the needed selfobject functions and to acquire the missing self structure is termed transmuting internalization.
Kohut (1984, p. 70) came to recognize that this process occurs through this two-step process.
First, there must be a basic empathic intuneness between the self and its selfobjects.
In the therapeutic setting this intuneness between the self and its selfobjects or bond is the emerging selfobject transference.
Second, manageable and minor nontraumatic failures of the empathic bond must occur.
Kohut referred to these failures as "optimal frustratiostrations" and viewed them as inevitable, not because they are brought about by some technical manipulation on the part of the analyst to facilitate cure, but because the analyst's task is to understand and explain the patient's needs, not to meet them.
Of course, some have chosen to interpret optimal frustration as a technical prescription, to which Kohut (1987) responds,
"There is never any need–and by never, I mean never – there is never any need to be artificially traumatic.
Simply to give the best you can give is traumatic enough, because you cannot fulfill the real needs." (p. 91). Return to top