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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.

Jørstad, J. (2002). Erotic countertransference: Hazards, challenges and therapeutic potentials. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 25(2):117-134.

(2002). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 25(2):117-134

Erotic countertransference: Hazards, challenges and therapeutic potentials

Jarl Jørstad, M.D.

The views on countertransference in psychoanalytic theory and practice have undergone a change within the last fifty years. From being considered an impediment to analysis, countertransference is today looked upon as an important potential for a tentative understanding of what is unconsciously communicated from the analysand to the analyst. This implies that the analyst is susceptible to the unconscious interaction in the transference and the countertransference, and that he/she becomes conscious as quickly as possible of what is taking place. This applies especially to erotic feelings which are often intensified in analyses with patients with a serious psychopathology, as well as in analyses with patients in regressive phases where projective identification is the dominant factor used as a defence and a communication. Opinions differ as regards the question of how to deal with such a situation, especially whether it is right to be candid about the analyst's countertransference feelings towards the analysand, something most would caution against. In an example from an analysis, the analyst describes how he was influenced by an unconscious erotic countertransference. After three years of therapy with a patient with a serious psychopathology, he developed “motherly” feelings, which he interpreted as reflecting a child's longing for closeness and physical contact. The result was that a few times, he “forgot” to indicate the end of the session, which was then prolonged, and also that he embraced her on several occasions before she left the session. One year later, he had intense sexual fantasies and dreams about the analysand, which he experienced as both enticing and alarming, and as an impediment to the analysis. He soon became aware of the element of projective identification in the interaction, and by interpreting the analysand's unconscious communication, he regained his ability to maintain an analytic attitude and clear boundaries.

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