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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.

Avello, J.J. (1998). Metapsychology in Ferenczi: Death Instinct or Death Passion?. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 7(4):229-233.

(1998). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 7(4):229-233

Metapsychology in Ferenczi: Death Instinct or Death Passion?

José Jiménez Avello, Ph.D.

In Freud's perspective the severe clinical phenomena related to repetition-compulsion depend on death instinct, while according to Ferenczi they depend on severe early traumas provoked by human actions. Concepts and ideas stemming from Ferenczi's posthumous notes seem to be especially relevant for understanding how trauma may result in devastating effects. If a traumatic assault occurs at an early developmental period, which might be described as a “mimetic period”, causing a displeasure that exceeds the capacity of tolerance of the ego, the ego tries to manage it by a mimetic reproduction of the aggressor's desires. This mimetic reaction leaves an imprint in the subject, which Ferenczi calls “alien transplant”. In line with the idea of an intrusive potential of the environment, Ferenczi also suggests, following Descartes, that the “passions” of the soul are created as a reaction to the suffering inflicted from outside. If we compare Freud's ideas with those of Ferenczi, we find that Ferenczi's concept of “alient transplant” is equivalent to Freud's concept of “death instinct”. In order to make this correspondence apparent, it is suggested to call it “death passion”. This point is illustrated with a clinical vignette.

[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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