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Tip: Understanding Rank

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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.

Samuels, A. (1983). Heracles: An Heroic Figure of the Rapprochement Crisis. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:366.

(1983). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10:366

Heracles: An Heroic Figure of the Rapprochement Crisis

Andrew Samuels


I hope you will permit some continuation of my debate with Dr Greenstadt about Heracles (Int. Review, 9:3, 9:4). I am grateful for his substantial response to my brief comment.

There are two main problems. First, there is a muddle in Dr Greenstadt's use of the word 'development'. In his original paper (Int. Review, 9:1) Dr Greenstadt refers within a few lines to 'Mahler's developmental psychoanalytic ego psychology' and then to the 'developmental process' of myths (p. 2). If he means by the latter that myths undergo a process of elaboration and refinement over time, then few would disagree. But I fear that Dr Greenstadt means something other than that, which brings me to the second problem.

He has anthropomorphized Heracles, is looking at him as he would a person, which obviates the need for and function of such representations. This is imaginative but the experience of analytical psychology is that it is unsound.

In analytical psychology the mythic or divine figure functions as an image of, or metaphor for a pattern of emotional behaviour and not of a person. The hero represents a phase of ego development connected to separation from the mother, characterized by violent conflict with a maternal monster/dragon, or similar opponent. Rapprochement may be said to take place via the counterbalancing presence in the heroic mythologem of a feminine element (the princess or treasure that is the object of the heroic quest).

In terms of the actual development of the person, failure to achieve rapprochement by this 'secondary feminization' following separation produces a suspiciously assertive 'heroic' masculinity with little capacity to relate; a paranoid-schizoid style of ego functioning.

Dr Greenstadt then introduces 'archetype'. His remarks require more than a brief letter in reply. But Jung and post-Jungian analytical psychologists have repeatedly emphasized the relation of archetypes to instinct, and that they are structures and not contents of the psyche. Thus we refer to Heracles as an archetypal figure, or archetypal motif, or archetypal image—meaning that he is a representative version of an essentially irrepresentable structure.


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