Refreshingly, Roudinesco restores some vivid examples of what appear to be Freud's shocking departures from "correct" psychoanalytic practice—loaning money to his patients, analyzing his daughter—to the world in which they actually occurred.
The many specifications and boundaries now considered the hallmark, indeed sometimes the caricature, of the psychoanalyst—remaining largely silent, taking a neutral stance, never giving advice—were only rarely practiced by Freud.
igmund Freud, still hailed as "the most famous and most controversial thinker of the 20th century," published 20 books and more than 300 articles during his long lifetime.
He also left extensive drafts, notes, diaries, and annotations in his vast library, ransomed from the Nazis by Princess Marie Bonaparte upon his forced relocation from Vienna to London in 1938, a year before he died.
Of the more than 20,000 letters Freud wrote, about half survive. So why would we ever need another biography of Freud?
The man has already been the subject of several dozen biographies. religion, Freud and women, Freud the clinician, Freud the family man, Freud with his cigars, Freud and neurons, Freud and dogs . Precisely for the reason that Roudinesco wrote this brilliant new book: because Sigmund Freud, declared dead more times than anyone can count, is nevertheless very much alive.Freud's elegantly crafted and provocative case histories gave "unusual, lively accounts of the everyday dramas of the private insanity dissimulated under the appearances of complete normality." Awarded the Goethe Prize for Literature in 1930, he was "inventing a new origin narrative in which the modern subject was the hero not of a simple pathology but of a tragedy." In each of his famous cases, Freud drew on Greek myth, anthropology, history, and literature, writing "with immense narrative talent, an account that could be read as a novel." Roudinesco demonstrates convincingly that despite Ernest Jones's determined effort to remake Freud solely in the image of a scientist, he remained attracted to the occult, to mythology and legend—and of course, to dreams.He took cocaine, kept a journal of his dreams and symptoms, participated in moments of telepathy and table turning, and wrote a famous paper on "the uncanny." He also worked 16-18 hours a day, adhered to strict mealtimes, and "always looked visitors straight in the eye, as if seeking to show that he never missed a thing." Freud read or spoke eight modern and ancient languages, "had no patience for any form of negligence," played cards with old friends on Saturday evenings, and had his beard trimmed by a barber every morning.The rules of psychoanalytic practice with which we are familiar today were invented by Freud's colleagues in the first generation of analysts, intended not for them but for those who would follow in decades to come.Throughout her book, Roudinesco engages in a lively dialogue with Freud and his work, and with dozens of other commentators, analysts, and historians.Respectful, except to those who make serious errors or simply repeat rumors, she is happy to accept the insights of others but still stakes out her own interpretations.In so doing, she gives us anew the man who did more than anyone else in the 20th century to shape our ways of understanding ourselves.Indeed, as the French historian and psychoanalyst Élisabeth Roudinesco remarks: "Every moment of Freud's life has been discussed and every line of his work interpreted in multiple ways." There have been countless essays on "Freud and . And despite the vast profusion of materials by and about him, or perhaps as a consequence of them, "we have great difficulty knowing who Freud really was, so thoroughly have the commentaries, fantasies, legends, and rumors masked the reality of this thinker, in his time and in ours." The need is even more acute now that the Sigmund Freud Archive at the Library of Congress—with reams of correspondence, family documents, patients' files, notebooks, photographs, school records, interviews, etc.—has finally, after almost 70 years of continuous collection, been opened fully to researchers.Roudinesco, author of many previous works on psychoanalysis, has made extensive use of this huge trove, and Freud: In His Time and Ours is the culmination of her life's work.No matter how much or how little you know of Freud, reading it is eye-opening and deeply satisfying.Scrupulous and exhaustive in her use of every imaginable source, Roudinesco performs a huge public service by debunking dozens of errors, myths, caricatures, and rumors that have long circulated about Freud.