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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.

Lieberman, J.S. (2011). Common Ground Between Psychoanalysis and Art: Introduction to Wilson and Miller. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 59(1):85-87.

(2011). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 59(1):85-87

Interdisciplinary Studies

Common Ground Between Psychoanalysis and Art: Introduction to Wilson and Miller

Janice S. Lieberman

Psychoanalysis is a listening profession. We psychoanalysts make meaning of our patients' words by using our ears and aural pathways to the brain. A number of years ago, I wrote about the use of alternative pathways for understanding our patients: “Responses to visual representations can be at times more visceral and immediate than they are to auditory communications. Visual sensations tend to be experienced more directly, and thus can short-circuit the kinds of intellectualizations and denial to which words lend themselves” (Lieberman 2000, p. 223).

We can train our eyes to better understand others (and ourselves as well) by looking at art and in that process give our ears, and the part of the brain to which they transmit, a temporary rest. Experiencing and understanding the content of art, how it was created, what went on in the minds and developmental histories of the artists, and tuning into what the artworks evoke in us (an analogue of the countertransference) cannot help but inform our clinical work, as well as enriching us personally. As Miller notes in the paper that follows, “familiar analytic ideas seem revitalized when they reveal themselves in art, [and] our understanding of them deepens” (p. 111).

Freud's seminal writings on Leonardo and Michelangelo have inspired analysts too numerous to list here to apply their psychoanalytic knowledge to art. Ellen Handler Spitz (1982) has identified three typical approaches to the psychoanalytic understanding of art:

1.   pathography: understanding the neurosis of the artist as reflected in the artwork (an approach exemplified by Freud)—Freudian

2.   interpreting the artwork as text itself and as representative of the relatively autonomous functioning of the ego (exemplified by Kris)—ego psychological

3.   understanding

[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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