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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.

Wilson, M. (2014). Maternal Reliance: Commentary on Kristeva. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(1):101-111.

(2014). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 62(1):101-111

Maternal Reliance: Commentary on Kristeva

Mitchell Wilson

In “Reliance, or Maternal Eroticism,” Julia Kristeva conveys, as throughout her work on the maternal, a persistent desire to speak from a forbidden place (an “outlaw” place), at least within the context of normative psychoanalytic theory. With hints of the alchemical, she mixes a deeply scholarly sensibility with wisdom, sobriety, and passion. In my remarks I will situate her work within the basic Lacanian categories—especially the symbolic and the real—because it is within this psychoanalytic context that Kristeva's project emerges. Kristeva, with only symbolic tools at her disposal, seeks the real, which she associates with the feminine, the maternal. By way of Freud and Lacan and the specimen dream of psychoanalysis, the dream of Irma's injection, I'll consider why the real and the feminine as forbidden object are so intimately linked. Next I'll discuss (all too briefly) Kristeva's picture of maternal passion, not only in relation to the real, but also in connection with contemporary ideas about maternal capacities such as holding and containing. Maternal passion involves an ethical position, what Kristeva calls herethics. This herethical position has direct implications for the analyst as a subject of responsibility. I conclude with a postscript that is meant to be more allusive than assertive, more provocative than definitive.

For French analysts especially, and many Freudians more generally, the structuration of the mind, family, and society-writ-large rests on the father's role, on what is typically called the paternal function. The mother, as French analysts like to emphasize, already instantiates thirdness via identification with the “father of individual prehistory” (Aisenstein 2012). Thirdness evolves as the mother-infant dyad is gradually triangulated by the father. This triangulation, instituted by the prohibition of incest (the father's “no”) is, of course, the oedipal situation. Thus, the mother as primary, primitive object is forbidden. It is important to appreciate that the oedipal situation is symbolically structured.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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