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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.

Jacobson, E. (1954). Contribution to the Metapsychology of Psychotic Identifications. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:239-262.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:239-262

Contribution to the Metapsychology of Psychotic Identifications

Edith Jacobson, M.D.


In manic-depressives the regressive processes do not proceed as far and do not result in "total identifications." They result in fusions of bad or good love-object images with the self-image and with the superego and eventually lead to a severe pathological conflict—or harmony—between the self and the superego. In schizophrenics the ego and superego systems deteriorate to a much more dangerous extent. The conflict between self and superego becomes retransformed into struggles between the self and magic, threatening love-object figures, and the pathological identifications are the expression of alternating introjective and projective processes leading to more or less total fusions between these self- and object images within the deteriorating ego-id. In so far as powerful, lasting object images are reconstituted and reattached to the outside world, the ego-superego conflicts change into homosexual paranoid conflicts, with impulses to kill and fears of being persecuted and destroyed by outside representatives of these terrifying figures.

If I stated in the beginning that the manic-depressive treats himself as if he were the love object, whereas the schizophrenic behaves as if he were or believes himself to be the object, the meaning of this difference has now become clearer. It points to the tendency and effort of the manic-depressive to submit to or to reconcile with, but in any case to keep alive and to cling to, the love object. In contradistinction to this position, the schizophrenic tends either to destroy and replace the object by the self or to let the self be annihilated and replaced by the object. This difference is reflected in the fact that in the preschizophrenic, mechanisms of imitation of the love object play such a paramount role, whereas all the manic-depressive needs and wants is punishment leading to forgiveness, love and gratification from his superego or his love object, respectively.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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