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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.

Cooper, A.M. Sacks, M.H. (1991). Sadism and Masochism in Character Disorder and Resistance. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:215-226.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:215-226

Sadism and Masochism in Character Disorder and Resistance

Arnold M. Cooper, M.D. and Michael H. Sacks, M.D.

COOPER INTRODUCED THE PANEL BY NOTING the current controversy in psychiatric nomenclature regarding a place for masochism. DSM-III-R rejected the term "masochism" and placed "self-defeating personality disorder" in an Appendix of Proposed Diagnostic Categories Needing Further Study. As psychoanalysts we would most likely disagree with this decision; it is an important diagnosis and concept in our work with patients, and hardly a new idea.

Cooper stated that recent changes in the psychoanalytic appreciation of narcissism and object relations, together with advances in developmental psychology, might make it an excellent time to reevaluate our understanding of sadism and masochism. Specifically, he asked that the panelists consider: (1) The developmental and clinical interrelations between masochism and sadism; (2) the nature of their gratification; (3) the relation of normal to pathological counterparts; (4) the motivaton for change in these disorders; (5) negative therapeutic reaction; and (6) countertransference response.

Jack Novick reviewed his and Kerry Novick's earlier study of the beating fantasy which Freud had described as the "essence of masochism." They found a normal transitory fantasy which was more often found in girls and easily gave way to interpretation or spontaneous modification. Its dynamics followed the classical formulation of oedipal conflicts leading to regression to anal-phase fixations around aggression and the beating wish. Revival of this fantasy in later life or in analysis was related to neurosis. This contrasted with the fixed beating fantasy which was often impervious to interpretive work and had many of the attributes commonly ascribed to character.

[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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