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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.

Doctor, R. Doctor, S. (2004). Learning from our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy by Patrick Casement (Brunner-Routledge, London, 2002).. Psychoanal. Psychother., 18(3):346-347.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 18(3):346-347

Book Reviews

Learning from our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy by Patrick Casement (Brunner-Routledge, London, 2002).

Review by:
Ronald Doctor

Suzette Doctor

Patrick Casement continues his argument from his first two books: On Learning from the Patient (1985) and Further Learning from the Patient (1990), with a new book, Learning from our Mistakes: Beyond Dogma in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He examines the processes of supervision and internal supervision by which practitioners can develop their awareness of the patient's experience within the clinical encounter, and he particularly considers the issues of mistakes and enactments by the analysts. He argues that psychoanalysis and psychotherapy can be limited by a too-rigid adherence to theory. Therapeutic technique is creative when it is furthering the working alliance between patient and therapist and enhancing patient self-reflection and exploration. Technique too influenced by theory and insufficiently responsive to the patient is in danger of fostering unhealthy compliance or therapist-induced resistance. Of primary importance is that the patient is allowed to discover his own truth rather than that of his analyst.

Casement uses rich and detailed clinical presentations to illustrate how therapists can use patient's conscious and unconscious communications to improve the quality of their interventions. Trial identification with the patient's feelings can lead the therapist to phrase an intervention so that it can be heard and thought about rather than, for example, defended against because of inflicting overwhelming shame. Casement also illustrates how becoming sensitive to the patient's ‘unconscious promptings’ can guide the therapist as to how the patient is experiencing the therapist. Casement's clinical commentaries show an exquisite sensitivity to the patient's experience. One of the ways this is illustrated is through his capacity to stay with not-knowing until the patient's material warrants a comment in tune with his inner world, rather than make a premature interpretation, which might be felt to be an impingement.

The chapter on supervision raises parallel issues regarding conformity (to the supervisor) versus helping the trainee to develop his own voice. This process requires the supervisor, as was the case with the therapist, to monitor his own contribution, if an overly-conforming process develops. The pertinent issue of keeping criticism helpful rather than persecutory was also discussed.


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