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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.

Mann, D. (1992). Beyond Countertransference: The Therapist's Subjectivity in the Therapeutic Process by Joseph Natterson. Published by Jason Aronson Inc., 1991; 242 pages.. Brit. J. Psychother., 9(2):245-247.

(1992). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 9(2):245-247

Beyond Countertransference: The Therapist's Subjectivity in the Therapeutic Process by Joseph Natterson. Published by Jason Aronson Inc., 1991; 242 pages.

Review by:
David Mann

This is a bold book. Natterson's thesis is that the therapist's subjective life is co-equal to that of the client in creating the therapeutic transaction. The book's title, Beyond Countertransference, reflects the author's view that traditional notions of countertransference are too limiting to encompass what he is trying to describe. The idea of countertransference has developed considerably in the last hundred years of psychoanalysis. Natterson points out, rightly in my view, that, even though most therapists would recognise that their countertransference means more than just a neurotic disturbance in the therapist, the term still carries some of its historical and implicit baggage, namely that, even in its widest definition, countertransference still implies a disturbance in the therapist/analyst and merely describes the therapist as one who responds to the client.

Natterson argues that because Freud believed that instinctual drives motivated our psychological lives, a belief that led to an intrapsychic theory of personality development, this caused him to under-value the significance of interpersonal factors. Natterson recommends two important changes of emphasis in psychoanalytic work; first, that there needs to be less emphasis on drives in favour of intersubjective, interpersonal factors; and second, that countertransference, which derives from an intrapsychic orientation, needs to be subordinated to concepts of intersubjectivity. Natterson's suggestion is to acknowledge the therapist's subjective contribution to the therapeutic process as potentially useful and proactive as well as reactive.

[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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