have been reading a long essay on psychology and, at some point, the authors use the phrase "in one's sum", whose meaning I could not catch. I looked it up at some dictionaries, but I could not find either the phrase or a possible meaning for it. The context is as follows:

“We seek to test and find ourselves in the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship, to become known to and accepted by the other, in whose sum we may more fully assess ourselves.”


"In their sum, we can then most fully assess our potential for life."

Can anyone help me understand this phrase? Thanks in advance.

  • Could you provide a link or reference to the essay, or more surrounding context? Aug 6, 2020 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


Sum might be used here in two different ways:

  • Sum meaning summation, esteem or estimation. "Accepted bu others," implies we wish to be esteemed, valued, by others.
  • In their sum, most often means "in all its parts," though in the cited paragraph, it might also mean "in their [others] esteem".

To me, this reading is somewhat obscure and infelicitous. In an attempt to seem erudite, the author chose rather unclear usage. Perhaps it could be summed more succinctly,

Therapists view their own worth by the evaluation of others. 

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