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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.

Hayman, M. (1957). Traumatic Elements in the Analysis of a Borderline Case. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:9-21.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:9-21

Traumatic Elements in the Analysis of a Borderline Case

Max Hayman, M.D.

Before going into the details of the case here considered, a few notes on trauma which can be kept in mind during the description will be useful. Although this presentation is primarily clinical, it will also be useful to provide at least a skeleton theoretical framework in which the traumatic neurosis can be placed.

Ordinarily the psychic apparatus maintains an equilibrium between external stimuli, tension within the organism, and discharge. When the influx of stimuli is so great and so rapid that it cannot be assimilated, we call the resulting condition a traumatic neurosis; when the discharge is severely blocked, we call it a psychoneurosis (4). We understand that these are relative concepts and that there is an inverse relationship between the quantity of stimulus and the amount of blockage necessary to precipitate a neurosis. What happens to the excess stimuli that cannot be assimilated? Freud (6) began the answer to this question and has done the basic work in such studies. His original observations on the method of mastering traumatic stimuli by repetition are fundamental. The change from passively experiencing stimuli to actively repeating them is an important step in mastering them. This occurs not just in those major events which we call traumatic situations, but in many minor crises occurring constantly in daily life, the trauma of which is often mastered by prior rehearsal and subsequent repetition. As we know, Freud went on from this mechanism of handling traumata to develop it into the principle of the repetition-compulsion which overrules or displaces the pleasure principle.

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