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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.

Marcus, E.R. (1996). Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, by Christopher Bollas, Hill & Wang, New York, 1992, 294 pages, $11.00. Reviewed by Eric R. Marcus M.D.. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 5(4):581-585.

(1996). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 5(4):581-585

Book Reviews

Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, by Christopher Bollas, Hill & Wang, New York, 1992, 294 pages, $11.00. Reviewed by Eric R. Marcus M.D.

Review by:
Eric R. Marcus, M.D.

Christopher Bollas is a popular author and Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience is his latest work. In my opinion, there are very great difficulties in its formulation and execution. My review must therefore do two things. It must describe the ideas in the book, the difficulties in conceptualization and explication of those ideas, the implications this difficulty has for interdisciplinary and applied psychoanalytic endeavors, and the relationship between theory and clinical work implied but misapplied. This review must also try to understand why the book is popular.

First, as to the ideas. The book is divided into two parts, the first of which is an exposition of his theories. Bollas' basic idea is that our lives are a creative expression of our unconscious and that external object relations reflect a continuing evolution of internal object relations. The object in reality is seen as important to inner growth. Trauma can be either a block or a creative potential. The dream work organizes life historical data both during sleep and the awake state. Most of this is unconscious. There is a prestructural state which serves as an object relations generator and the self organizer. This potential interacts with objects in reality and the inner object world to achieve creative organizations he calls genera (presumably after the word generative). The unfettered development of this system results in creative complexity and feelings of satisfaction.

The second part of the book is a series of papers describing the psychodynamics of certain patients, such as the homosexual cruiser, the borderline cutter. These papers focus on his view of the symptomatic experience and its social context.

[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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