Sensitivity is necessary to portray characters, but so is a great amount of distance. I'm watching a person start spiraling down the path into depression and stress. I've offered a way out of it, but they won't take it. There is nothing more helpless than knowing what helped you could help another, and they refuse your help.
I have the distance and curiosity. What other things are going on in their life that is causing such stress and anxiety? Why are they letting work get to them? Is it their nature? If so, how can I use that for a character? And, most important, can I or should I fix them when I present them in a story?
In real life, people refuse to change. They keep on the same comfortable route even if it's painful to themselves. It's what they know.
The function of stories is to show change. To present the possibility to the reader that things can change for people when they need it.
This is why, when I read about people finding God, it makes me cry. Because they have made such a major change in their lives, from being active to being receptive. They accept what's going on around them as God's plan. It's such hard work to reject things as being fated or part of your plan of existence; it's such hard work to change your fate and change what you are.
Wait, I just wrote myself into a corner with that paragraph...
People are messes of contradictions. They say they want change but then they're helpless to do it. They want to write, after they get the perfect computer. The perfect office. The perfect pen and notebook. The perfect place. Or they expect the story to come out whole cloth, like Athena from Zeus's head.
With me, that happens. But this freewriting has told me, if nothing, that I'm not perfect the first time.