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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.

Waldhorn, H.H. (1955). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 24:477-478.

(1955). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 24:477-478

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Herbert H. Waldhorn


Although successful sexual intercourse is generally believed to exert a favorable influence in the majority of neuroses, Katan states that under certain conditions it gives rise to an increase of conflict and causes damage to the ego's defensive capacities. The cases cited by Freud as being 'wrecked by success' are noted as representing the forbidding and punitive effect of a superego reaction when the success seemed equivalent to the gratification of an incestuous desire. Katan believes that when psychotic or prepsychotic symptoms have followed successful intercourse, id and ego reactions were predominantly the cause of the difficulties, rather than the effect of the superego. Successful sexual experience mobilized a constitutional id wish to become a woman, in contrast to the mechanisms operating in perversion and neurosis in which homosexuality is a defense against the positive Oedipal drives. The ego is simultaneously weakened by the loss of heterosexual drive which served as a defense against homosexual urges, and can be overwhelmed by a threat of emasculation followed by acute anxiety and delusional projections. A number of clinical studies are reviewed, including the Schreber case, to demonstrate that bisexual conflicts have been predominantly aggravated by sexual intercourse, where disturbances in the pattern of sexual functioning, including premature ejaculation, masturbation, regressive hehavior, and isolation of portions of the sexual response from the whole experience were among the defensive maneuvers used to deal with the intensified conflicts. Often there were homosexual transference situations which mobilized the particular responses noted, passive feminine wishes being experienced as the most dangerous threat to masculinity. Instances of the maintenance of erection after intercourse are examples of the denial of castration by the woman, and the denial of a passive femininity and homosexuality.

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