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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.

Priel, B. (2009). The Transformation of Sociogenic Autistic Defences in The Lives of Others. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(2):387-393.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(2):387-393

Film Essay

The Transformation of Sociogenic Autistic Defences in The Lives of Others

Beatriz Priel

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.


Contemporary psychoanalytic studies of cinema underscore this art's ability to mediate between specific analytic ideas and questions of collectively experienced trauma (Mulvey, 2003, p. xvi). In her analysis of Murderers Among Us, Chasseguet-Smirgel considers the fact that great artistic creations “cannot escape the context in which they were produced, just as dreams contain the day residues that contributed to their formation” (2001, p. 184). Moreover, contemporary cinema, and contemporary theatre as well, can be seen as replacing the role the will of the gods played in shaping the fate of individuals in classical tragedy with that of the laws decreed by social institutions. The Lives of Others, (2006; director, Florian Hanckel von Donnersmarck) constitutes a masterful example of film's mediation between situations of long-standing collective trauma and the activation of specific defence mechanisms. This film represents and creates an experience of the special forms of protection undertaken vis-à-vis the terrifying primitive anxieties that are aroused as basic human freedoms are brutally limited, and human relationships are perverted by a sociopolitical system with unlimited power. As presented in The Lives of Others, these protective mechanisms can be understood as following patterns similar to those of the measures that develop to protect the individual from annihilating anxieties in the earliest developmental stages. Using Tustin's basic model of autistic processes (Tustin, 1986, 1990, 1991), these forms of protection can be seen as parallels to autistic defences, as a self-generated shell whose purpose is to protect the primordial self from intolerable states of non-integration. This film also represents important aspects of processes that facilitate the gradual abandonment of these autistic defences and the attainment of psychic growth. The process of change of basic autistic forms unfolds in this film through the fantasized relationships between the two main protagonists, Wiesler and Dreyman, against the background of Art.

Film overview

The specific historical context is East Germany in the Orwellian 1984.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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