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And instead of a timeline of events at the end, Roudinesco provides as complete a list of Freud's patients as can be assembled from existing sources, as well as a family tree spanning five generations.
His patients, especially in the early years before the field started to become institutionalized in the 1920s, came largely from the same bourgeois Jewish community in Vienna as he did.
It was natural for a person he treated to refer his cousin or mistress or child; many people (then and now) go to doctors who have successfully helped someone they know.
He persuaded every analyst who had known Freud personally as well as most members of his extended family to contribute their own documents and testimonies.
Eissler then imposed hegemonic control over this entire archive, refusing access to professional historians and granting it only to those psychoanalysts who were members of the International Psychoanalytic Association.
And psychoanalysis before the Second World War was an insular and incestuous field, where there was rarely more than a degree or two of separation between colleagues, lovers, patients, or friends.
Freud, who "adored rumors," was "always inclined to intervene in the amorous adventures of his disciples," and the early history of the field is filled with the picaresque consequences.
"Each had his own way of wielding the instruments for exploring the psyche so as to make the other suffer," she remarks, and it took the outbreak of World War I, when analysts in different countries could no longer meet together or correspond easily, to end the "ludicrous war" between Jung and Freud.
Later, when yet another world war threatened to destroy everything he had done, Freud stubbornly persisted in thinking that psychoanalysis could "remain 'neutral' in the face of all social change, and thus 'apolitical.' " Roudinesco reveals the absurdity of his "blind conviction" that this approach could survive under Nazism and, in uncompromising terms, presents Jung's and Jones's collaboration with the Nazis, not by appealing to stereotype or veiled accusation, like so many others, but by quoting their actual words.
The Americans treat me the way a child treats a new doll: fun to play with, but soon to be replaced by another new toy." Ironically, as Roudinesco notes: She is excellent at identifying and critiquing Freud's blind spots without vilifying him in a more general sense, allowing him to be a fallible person living in a historical moment, not a symbol.
And she acknowledges his personal weaknesses without denying his intellectual courage: "Despite years of work on himself, Freud was as neurotic as ever," she remarks of the man who, at age 61, continued to suffer from various physical and mental ills and avidly to smoke cigars, despite the first signs of what was later diagnosed as cancer of the mouth, the disease from which he would ultimately die after dozens of operations and years of disfigurement and suffering.