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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.

Bleger, L. (2017). José Bleger's Thinking about Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(1):145-169.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(1):145-169

José Bleger's Thinking about Psychoanalysis Language Translation

Leopoldo Bleger

(Accepted for publication 24 June 2016)


The work of José Bleger is not easy to summarize. It is the fruit of developments in his thinking which took many years, with turning points which arose from his praxis, a concept that he was to re-elaborate in 1969 (Bleger, 2012). Although psychoanalysis was Bleger's central preoccupation, he believed that it should be put to work in different ways, in different fields, and not confined either to clinical practice or theoretical elaborations. For him, psychoanalysis was the vehicle of a profound epistemological revolution (Bleger, 1971a), one that is internal to the field of psychoanalysis itself. “The study of how we acquire and systematize psychoanalytic knowledge”, he wrote, “is part of psychoanalysis itself” (Bleger, 1958, p. 22).

In this paper I shall first indicate the context of Argentinian psychoanalysis in the 1950s, the period when Bleger was in training, and then I shall articulate the four main ideas that he was to work on: the psychoanalytic session, symbiosis, ambiguity and the question of psychoanalytic setting. To better convey the evolution of his work as a whole, I also need to explain some aspects of the works of a French philosopher of Hungarian origin, Georges Politzer (1903-1942), and of the Argentinian psychoanalyst Enrique Pichon Rivière (1907-1977). My intention is to show a way of thinking in action. The best way to discuss a way of thinking is to grasp its logic, the way in which it generates problems and articulates them: we always think within a framework.

Following the tradition of psychoanalysts of that period, clinical material is used throughout Bleger's most important work, Symbiosis and Ambiguity: A Psychoanalytic Study. Chapters 1 and 4 of this book are constructed from two clinical cases narrated in detail, with long extracts from sessions. Chapters 5 and 6, on ambiguity and the setting respectively, make use of many clinical examples and I shall briefly revisit two of these.


[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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