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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.

Kinston, W. (1988). Techniques of Working with Resistance: By Donald S. Milman and George D. Goldman. London: Jason Aronson. 1987. Pp. 417 + xiv.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:563-564.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:563-564

Techniques of Working with Resistance: By Donald S. Milman and George D. Goldman. London: Jason Aronson. 1987. Pp. 417 + xiv.

Review by:
Warren Kinston

Patients undergoing psychoanalysis exhibit a 'violent and tenacious' resistance 'which opposes treatment' (Freud, 1916–17, p. 26 in text), but work with 'resistances is the essential function of analysis' (Freud, 1916–17, p. 30 in text). The psychoanalytic clinician deals with resistances effectively in practice and does not bother himself with resolving such logical contradictions. However, psychoanalytic theory demands a coherent framework. Contradictions cannot be ignored or glorified but must be resolved.

The present book is a collection and does not aim to provide any final synthesis or resolution. Its strength lies in its contributors, which include Freud, Reich, Giovacchini, Langs, Meltzer, Greenson and Kohut. If resistance were a different sort of concept, perhaps the collection would have made sense to the practising analyst. As it is, readers are well-advised to go to the original sources for inspiration rather than purchase this expensive book.

For the theoretically-minded psychoanalyst, the book is useful in that it reveals clearly how the concept has been handled over the decades. Most authors simply manipulate the term. Following Freud's example ('the pathogenic process which is demonstrated by the resistance [is called] repression' … p. 33 of text), they use resistance an an opportunity to ride their theoretical hobby horse, whatever it may be.

Such an expedient approach shows in the frequent tautologies used by the authors. The analyst does not analyse transference, but transference resistance; does not work with defences but defence resistance, does not dissect character but character resistance; does not struggle with the analysis of guilt but with guilt resistance; does not sensitively handle narcissistic psychopathology but narcissistic resistance; and so on.

[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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