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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Ash, L. (2009). On Disorganized Attachment. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 3(3):341-343.

(2009). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 3(3):341-343

On Disorganized Attachment

Lesley Ash

It is very difficult to hold a client with a disorganized attachment state of mind, further dysregulated by trauma, in the embrace of a non-residential, therapy setting.

The transference is unbearable, dangerous even, and the countertransference takes the therapist to places they would often rather not go. Containment is an issue, contact between the sessions is an issue, the pain is voiceless, the holding inadequate to the task. Frequently, the therapy fails … the client/patient can be deemed just ‘too ill’. Sometimes, the therapist ends it. Sometimes, the client flees - the ultimate flight being suicide.

These clients who cannot regulate their own affect and whose affect is extreme and unbearable frequently seek to supplement their therapies with ‘extras’ of one kind or another. They are right to do so. They are doing their best to construct a lifeline that they can hang on to when the storm comes. Sometimes, the lifeline holds. And sometimes, it breaks. When it breaks, that client arrives - if they live - in the next therapist's room and the task of understanding, or trying to understand, repairing, or trying to repair begins again.

In my experience, it is hard for therapists to help the client discover for themselves what worked and what did not work about the previous, unusually constructed, lifeline. It has, by definition, been built in the ‘not therapy’ places. The therapy is all filled up with an unbearable transference and so is useless for preserving life. The scrutiny of the therapist, the desire to see, the desire to understand is unbearable. So, by definition, the lifeline will be constructed where the therapist was not looking, is not thinking about: ‘in the cracks’.

I am quite a sophisticated client. I am a therapist with twenty years' experience. I have been shocked at how the thinking of therapists runs out or closes down in the places where they know what is right - from their training, from their experience, from the regulations, even hearsay. It has taken me many years - and multiple attempts - to find a therapist with ‘ears to hear’ my experience of my first, originally good enough, but now broken, therapy.

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