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David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern, has corroborated this through research on people’s capacity to care. Specifically, his work shows that experiencing suffering of one’s own can protect people from becoming apathetic about the suffering of others.

Sharp, who teaches in Northeastern’s department of psychology in addition to maintaining a private therapy practice, recalls how, in response to the pandemic alone, his patients and psychology students had already been describing experiences that bounced from anger to depression to denial and back. Some were depressed; others felt hopeless.

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