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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.

Neubauer, P. (2001). Von Charlottenburg zum Central Park West: Henry Lowenfeld und die Psychoanalyse in Berlin, Prag und New York: Thomas Müller. Frankfurt am Main: Deja Vu, 2000, 344 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 49(1):329-331.

(2001). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 49(1):329-331

Von Charlottenburg zum Central Park West: Henry Lowenfeld und die Psychoanalyse in Berlin, Prag und New York: Thomas Müller. Frankfurt am Main: Deja Vu, 2000, 344 pp.

Review by:
Peter Neubauer

The title of this book—in English, From Charlottenburg to Central Park West: Henry Lowenfeld and Psychoanalysis in Berlin, Prague, and New York—could be misleading if the reader expects a standard biography of the analyst Henry Lowenfeld. It is the belief of both the author, Thomas Müller, and of his subject that the life history of any person is the product of the environmental conditions that favor some and inhibit other features of personality development.

This position requires, in this instance, a careful study of the Zeitgeist, the conditions of life in Berlin, especially at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, until 1933; of the Prague Psychoanalytic Study Group up to 1938; and, finally, of the period of Lowenfeld's membership in the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.

Thus, this book gives us insight into the historical conditions of the life of a German Jew who, with so many others, became an analyst and was influenced by the political theories of his time. He was influenced particularly by Marxism, as formulated by Herbert Marcuse, and by Otto Fenichel, who with Edith Jacobson, Annie and Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, and George Gero created a Marxian psychoanalytic seminar in Central Europe in the early 1930s.

Given this background, it is not surprising that Henry Lowenfeld established a friendly relationship with Alexander Mitscherlich, or that he was critical of the Americanization of psychoanalysis. He had in mind, however, not the development of Hartmann's ego psychology but rather the stress on clinical pathology—oriented psychotherapy to the neglect of exploring the effect of social conditions on psychic life.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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