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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.

Modell, A.H. (1975). A Narcissistic Defence Against Affects and the Illusion of Self-Sufficiency. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:275-282.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:275-282

A Narcissistic Defence Against Affects and the Illusion of Self-Sufficiency

Arnold H. Modell


A narcissistic defence against affects, unlike isolation, is a defence against an object relationship. Object relations are strengthened by the sharing of genuine affects so that the failure to share feelings or the presentation of false feelings creates distance between the self and other objects. The defence is similar to that of denial in that it entails a modification of the ego's own structure. We have suggested that this modification consists of a precocious but fragile establishment of a sense of self.

The defence may occupy a sector of the personality or reflect a more massive structural arrest. When there is this structural arrest, we believe that this narcissistic defence forms the basis for the narcissistic character disorder described by Kohut and the false self of Winnicott.

This precocious sense of self leading to an illusion of self-sufficiency may also be found in other disorders, including the borderline patient, but the borderline patient, in contrast, suffers from a failure of internalization which leads to object hunger in contrast to the denial of object need of the narcissistic disorder. We suspect that the environmental trauma that may contribute to the narcissistic disorder is less severe as compared to the borderline states and may consist of the mother's failure to accept the child's separateness and autonomy, resulting in a fear of the mother's intrusiveness.

The fear of the maternal object's intrusiveness contributes to the relative inability to form a therapeutic

alliance in the psychoanalysis of narcissistic character disorders. The analyst's interpretations are experienced as dangerous, not necessarily because of their content but due to the fear of the analyst's intrusive influence. Our understanding of the means of effecting therapeutic change must be modified in patients with narcissistic character disorders for, in contrast to the 'classical' neurotic, analytic progress is not obtained by means of interpreting the transference neurosis in the context of a working or therapeutic alliance. Although we acknowledge that the psychoanalysis of narcissistic disorders can lead to significant therapeutic gains, such analyses may prove to be interminable if the gains do not also result in the establishment of a transference neurosis and therapeutic alliance.

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