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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.

Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984: On the Theory of Psychoanalytic Treatment. Hildegard Adler. Pp. 993-1022.. Psychoanal Q., 56:602-603.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984: On the Theory of Psychoanalytic Treatment. Hildegard Adler. Pp. 993-1022.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:602-603

Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984: On the Theory of Psychoanalytic Treatment. Hildegard Adler. Pp. 993-1022.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

In his 1934 article, "The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psycho-Analysis," Strachey noted the paucity of attention that the therapeutic process per se has received from theoreticians; Adler feels that Strachey's complaints are still appropriate, even though technique receives more attention currently. While Strachey's article is important, psychoanalysis has made many advances since 1934. Adler examines Strachey's view that the analyst serves as a milder, more gentle superego to help reduce the patient's anxiety over instinctual conflicts. In Strachey's view, therapeutic change came about through a change in the patient's superego, from which other changes in the patient's psychological makeup automatically followed. He emphasized guilt and anxiety as most strongly indicating the need for therapy; therapeutic change develops from the dynamically effective interpretation of the transference, which reproduces the history of the instincts and their vicissitudes. Many authors have helped us understand the psychoanalytic process; the analytic relationship has been discussed in terms of the mother-child model, the identification of the analyst with the mother of separation, and the "holding function" of the analyst. Modell speaks of the "cocoon-transference." The author reviews these several contributions to theory and therapy. The general shift seems to be away from what the analyst says, and more toward what he is. Change is not seen as coming about through interpretation of the transference, and the analyst is not solely a more kindly superego figure. The object relations theorists view the therapeutic relation as a complementary regression in which the therapist participates, and which emphasizes what has come to be known as the holding function of the analyst. Adler

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reviews these contributions as well as those from phenomenological psychologists. She suggests that current psychoanalysis is more concerned with the patient's shame and fears of destruction, and therefore more concerned with the ego and the self and less with superego analysis. And it focuses more on interactions and relationships in its interpretations than on the interpretation of instincts and their vicissitudes. Finally the role of the recognition and understanding of countertransference feelings is emphasized, for every interpretation is in a sense a countertransference interpretation.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984. Psychoanal. Q., 56:602-603

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