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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.

Moffat, D. (2017). Maldonado, J.L. & Solimano, A.L. (2016). ‘Reflections on trauma, symbolization and psychic pain in a case of neurosis and a case of psychosis’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 97, 5, 1299-1320.. J. Anal. Psychol., 62(4):619-622.
  

(2017). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 62(4):619-622

Maldonado, J.L. & Solimano, A.L. (2016). ‘Reflections on trauma, symbolization and psychic pain in a case of neurosis and a case of psychosis’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 97, 5, 1299-1320.

Review by:
Diana Moffat

This paper explores, by the use of two case studies, trauma and its relationship to historical reality, its symbolization and the psychic pain generated by the investigation of the unconscious in the psychoanalytic process. The authors compare and contrast the nature of trauma as experienced in the case of a neurotic patient and a psychotic one. The study focuses on the difficulties encountered by the analysts in the interpretive treatment of the trauma due to the intense psychic pain experienced by the patients describing this as - at times - a ‘destructive distortion’ (p. 1299) of the process.

This immediately caught my attention as I found myself wondering about how much of the analytic process is based on interpretative treatment. Drawing on Freud (1915), the authors seem to take a position that analysis is not possible with psychotic patients as they have withdrawn libido from the object to such a degree that they retreat into a state of infantile omnipotence where there is no object, and therefore no transference is possible. Other analysts who did analyse psychotic patients would disagree, e.g. Searles (1963), Segal (1957) and Lucas (2009). Jung based his early work on the analysis of psychotic patients and made startling breakthroughs but not by focusing solely on the interpretative method. For him, catharsis, education and transformation were equally important aspects of the analytic relationship.

[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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