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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.

Hoit, M. (1999). Response to Kenneth Newman's “The Usable Analyst”. Ann. Psychoanal., 26:195-200.

(1999). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 26:195-200

Response to Kenneth Newman's “The Usable Analyst”

Michael Hoit, M.D.

Kenneth Newman has provided a view into his experiments in areas of deep clinical regression where, he believes, the analysand and the analyst, together, create an ad hoc space in which to enact early developmental processes. Specifically, Newman is proposing a radical solution for some psychoanalyses in which a particularly stubborn resistance appeared to be the result of a fixed character defense. He thinks that in cases where fragments of traumatic experience have been split off from the developmental line, the analysand will deprived of the necessary energy for growth. It is essential, then, to gain access to these experiences and to resolve the traumatic process to rejoin these fragments of development into the core of the self within a cohesive psychoanalytic interaction. The resistance that the analysis encounters in these cases is based on the unintegrated fragments of traumatic experience. The analysand clings to the traumatizing object tenaciously and resists every attempt at weaning. Newman supposes that the analysand when a child, faces overwhelming affects without adequate internal structure. Along with Winnicott, Kohut, and others, Newman believes that the parents' functions have to be included in any description of that infantile structure and its failures. His position is that the analysand cannot give up the object because of the overwhelming affect that would have to be faced in dealing with the traumatic experience and in synthesizing the internal object. The resistances cannot be resolved by interpretation of resistance because interpretation cannot be used if it comes from a distrusted analyst. This means the analyst is not conformable to a usable object (Newman, 1996). The traumata are, however, engageable through enactments; they have not been symbolically elaborated (there is no fantasy); they have not ever been put into words. Bollas (1987) calls this phenomenon, “The Unthought Known.”

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