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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.

Adler, H. (1995). Recall And Repetition Of A Severe Childhood Trauma. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:927-943.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:927-943

Recall And Repetition Of A Severe Childhood Trauma

Hildegard Adler

This study focuses on a patient who at the age of 3 survived the extended suicide of her parents. The account concentrates on the way in which this woman repeated the experiences of her trauma in the highly emotional therapy process (initially infrequent), and then how she recalled them at different stages and with variations, and it shows the decisive involvement of the analyst in this activity, in parallel processes of defence and reconstruction. The distinction needs to be drawn between the reproduction of the trauma, the form in which the extreme trauma is indelibly tattooed on the memory, and actual recalling. This is to be regarded as a method of analytical understanding, general in its applicability, as an evolving retrospective imposition of sense, by means of which the previously valid construction of knowledge is revised in accordance with the central relationship in the present. What the patient recalled as trauma events in evolving perspectives revealed itself as an overpowering prefiguration (attainable a posteriori) of the vicissitudes of transference. With regard to extreme trauma in childhood, this study develops the following hypotheses: (1) the overwhelming, shattering blow of an external event is met by an equally strong, archaic defence, even in the historical situation itself, as an escape from the unbearable, unspeakable pain; (2) the Janus face of the victim/perpetrator introject is manifest in the masochistic character-structure; (3) these splits can be attenuated in the course of a person's life, with the appropriate help, although they cannot be fully integrated.

[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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