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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.

Engel, G.L. Schmale, A.H., Jr. (1967). Psychoanalytic Theory of Somatic Disorder—Conversion, Specificity, and the Disease Onset Situation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:344-365.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:344-365

Psychoanalytic Theory of Somatic Disorder—Conversion, Specificity, and the Disease Onset Situation

George L. Engel, M.D. and Arthur H. Schmale, Jr., M.D.


The extension of psychoanalytic study to a more heterogeneous population of patients with somatic disease has brought forth new data and new perspectives relevant to psychoanalytic theory.

The concept of conversion has been examined and proposals have been put forth as to how conversion may at times lead to somatic disease. The latter, however, must be regarded as a complication of conversion, having no primary symbolic or defensive function.

The role of specificity in somatic disease genesis has been re-examined and the term somatopsychic-psychosomatic proposed to encompass a group of disorders in which primary biological factors influence both psychic development and somatic vulnerability. Patients sharing the same biological factor resemble each other both psychologically and in their predisposition to specific disease.

The setting of illness, the onset situation, has been proposed as the crucial period in which to study the nature of the psychological factors involved in the development of illness.

As one important nonspecific onset situation we have described in phenomenological terms the "giving up-given up" complex and considered its metapsychology, with particular reference to helplessness and hopelessness as the characteristic affects of this

state. We propose that the "giving up-given up" complex acts as a frequent factor contributing to the the emergence of disease, but is neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of disease.

"Flight-fight" and "conservation-withdrawal" are identified as two primary biological defense systems. Their relationship to the "giving up-given up" complex is discussed.

[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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