Although the early psychoanalysts tended to be protective of information about their personal lives, new work shows how their characters and relationships influenced the evolution of their profession. Yet, this personal element, significant and often overlooked as it is, offers only one approach to explicating this history. Psychoanalysis can also be understood as a technological innovation—in this case, a novel means of gathering data that completely disrupted traditional methods of analyzing human subjective experience. This view of psychoanalysis is a particularly effective way to show how events shaped practitioners' behavior, even as their behavior shaped events. Thus does it offer a complementary explanation for why the adherents of psychoanalysis so often assumed the contradictory roles of avant-garde revolutionaries and protectors of the true faith.

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