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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.

B., D. (1922). Sexual Life: F. W. Meagher. An Unusual Foreign Body in the Rectum. New York Medical Journal, September 21, 1921.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:356-357.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Sexual Life: F. W. Meagher. An Unusual Foreign Body in the Rectum. New York Medical Journal, September 21, 1921.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:356-357

Sexual Life: F. W. Meagher. An Unusual Foreign Body in the Rectum. New York Medical Journal, September 21, 1921.

D. B.

The author in reporting this case first draws attention to two unusual features in it, the nature of the foreign body, and the persistent refusal of the patient to aid any of the five physicians who saw him in arriving at a diagnosis although he was intelligent and did not exhibit any real psychotic phenomena.

The case is briefly as follows: The patient, aged twenty-four, was admitted to hospital complaining of severe pain in the mid-lumbar region for two days. He told the doctor he had no idea of the cause of the pain. Examination by a surgeon on the next day revealed the presence of a full-sized drinking glass in the rectum (four inches high, two and three-eighths inches across the bottom, and two and five-eighths inches across the top) which had been introduced inverted. The glass was removed and the patient made an uninterrupted recovery.

When the patient was informed of what had been found he offered no explanation and remained rather sullen. He resented attempts to obtain a complete history. It was discoved, however, that he had introduced the glass five days before its removal, and he admitted he had done it for its erotic effect. He was a painter by occupation and lived with his family. He had been somewhat hypochondriacal during the past few years. He was of the seclusive type, rather inattentive, introverted, selfish, lazy, and had few friends. He always avoided the opposite sex, and denied masturbation as ordinarily practised. He admitted to active rectal eroticism since his fourteenth year. Twice when a boy he permitted rectal coitus. For a long time he introduced ordinary candles into his rectum, then he used medicine bottles of gradually increasing size, until finally the drinking glass.

The author considers this case remarkable from the fact that the 'man had a dangerous foreign body in the rectum; that it caused intense

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pain necessitating the giving of morphine; that though he begged for the relief of pain nevertheless he allowed five physicians to examine him and purposely hid the facts, even going to the operating room stubbornly keeping his story to himself'. In looking at it from the author's point of view we undoubtedly agree with him. However, the psycho-analyst is not astonished at this attitude of the patient. We note that the patient only begged for relief of pain, and not for the removal of the foreign body. We can only deduce from this that the fact of the foreign body in the rectum was exceedingly pleasurable to the patient, and that the pain was an unfortunate and unwished for adjunct to the pleasure; hence he wished to lose the pain and hoped this could be accomplished without being deprived of his source of pleasure.

In his further remarks on the case the author alludes to the anus and rectum as erotogenic zones, and quotes various writers in support of this. He also refers to the anal erotic character traits some of which the patient exhibited as would be expected. However, the important question of homosexuality he does not refer to specifically. There is no doubt that the patient is a passive homosexual who as far as is known did not practice it except on two occasions when a boy; but the use of candles for introduction into the rectum is obviously intended to symbolise the penis.

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Article Citation

B., D. (1922). Sexual Life. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:356-357

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