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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.

Greenberg, J. (2000). Discussion of Dr. Dunn's Case. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 9(4):500-502.

(2000). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 9(4):500-502

Discussion of Dr. Dunn's Case

Jay Greenberg, Ph.D.

The first question, following on some of what I said in relation to Dr. Epstein's paper, has to do with what constitutes consequential analytic data. Consider this description from Dr. Dunn's first vignette. The analyst tells the patient in the fifth session that she could begin analysis on the couch in the next session. And then: “This set in motion a complex interaction/enactment in which I felt that I had forced the patient prematurely and clumsily onto the couch to meet my needs to graduate and she felt subject to traumatic, intrusive, shameful exposure and feared an incestuous, sadomasochistic attack.” As the case history develops, we come to understand Ms. X's reaction, its relationship to her history, and its connection to her presenting symptom. That is, we come to see that she could not have an analysis without experiencing these feelings in the transference.

But Dr. Dunn, of course, tells us more. He tells us that he experienced himself in a particular way—was focused on his own narcissistic needs, and pursuing them without regard to his patient's best interest. Two thoughts about this come to mind. First, I believe that his description of his own vital, disturbing emotional involvement with his patient captures something of what it feels like to do analysis, at least some of the time. The analyst's affective participation—although like the patient's it waxes and wanes—is always there for the finding, especially at moments in which the engagement is particularly intense.

As I say this, I am fully aware that it is a controversial proposition. It could be said, instead, that Dunn's experience was simply a beginner's mistake. For instance, it might be argued that his feelings of urgency about getting Ms. X on the couch were driven by his own performance anxiety, by a transferentially overblown concern about being judged harshly by his supervisors.

[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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