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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.

Eshel, O. (2019). The Vanished Last Scream: Winnicott And Bion. Psychoanal Q., 88(1):111-140.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88(1):111-140

The Vanished Last Scream: Winnicott And Bion

Ofra Eshel

This paper’s point of entry to the psychoanalytic thinking on early breakdown, catastrophic psychic trauma, and the last scream is an ancient enigmatic Jewish Midrash which creates an analogy between the voice of a tree being cut down and the voice of a soul departing from the body—a voice that cries out inaudibly from one end of the world to the other. Drawing on the writings of Winnicott, late Bion, and later Eigen, Tarantelli, and Bromberg, the paper explores the depths of early breakdown and core catastrophe, where unthinkable terror lies buried unknown, unexperienced, unlived, and unrepresented, and the last SOS scream vanishes. This underlying catastrophic impact forecloses the very process of thinking, dreaming and analytic reverie. The author contends that the unthinkable cannot be thought, but only relived and gone through with the analyst. Using detailed clinical examples from Bion, Winnicott, and from her own work, the author puts forth a profound form of the analyst’s being-there, within, connecting with the unthinkable, ghostly horror, and catastrophic impact of the patient’s emotional reality, and hearing the vanishing scream. This interconnected being, which may become at-one-ment with the patient’s innermost experience, keeps both the scream and the patient's hope from dying out, and gradually creates new experience within.

[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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