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BC Experts: Boston Marathon Anniversary

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Joseph Tecce

Joseph Tecce
Associate Professor of Psychology
office: (617) 552-4121

Professor Tecce teaches Psychobiology of Mental Disorders, Psychophysiology of Stress, and Stress and Behavior. Part of his research centers on the psychophysiology of health, including body languages as indicators of emotions and stress, along with cognitive behavioral methods to control stress. He has written and presented papers on eye movements, especially blinking. Over his career, Tecce has written or contributed to almost 100 academic articles, many of which have been presented at conferences, and is often sought out by newspaper and television outlets for his insights on a variety of psychological topics, including lying and violence.


“We never really got closure on the bombings because some people died and a lot of people got hurt, and you don’t get closure until you run the next marathon,” says Boston College Associate Professor of Psychology Joseph Tecce, Ph.D.  “Despite the heroic efforts of Boston Strong, the stressful effects of the 2013 Marathon bombings have lingered and will only be successfully expunged once the runners hit the ground and the race reaches a successful conclusion without another dramatic trauma.

“Our minds are programmed for closure. Loose ends are a nagging source of stress. There is in psychology what is known as the ‘Zeigarnik effect,’ which is the experience of disruptive thoughts about a once-pursued goal that was started but left incomplete. The Boston Marathon is a perfect example of this phenomenon -- nagging thoughts and feelings about whether the marathon will ever be the same.”

“During the next few days, we will watch intently and celebrate with admiration the highly dedicated preparations that will unfold each day to insure safety and victory on marathon day - this is one of those rare times when the process will be just as satisfying as the outcome,” says Tecce, who has written or contributed to almost 100 academic articles  “There will be the fears, nagging doubts, and insecurities but there will also be an anticipation that it’s all going to go away if we just wait until April 21st when people start hitting the streets again for the Boston Marathon and no bombs occur. It’s a complex phenomenon when you have a trauma and it hasn’t gone away but you’re getting ready to get rid of that trauma in a few days.”

Usha Tummala-Narra

Usha Tummala-Narra
Lynch School of Education Assistant Professor
Licensed psychologist
office: 617-552-4491
cell: 781-835-5251

Usha Tummala-Narra is a licensed psychologist with an expertise in multicultural psychology, psychological trauma, ethnic and racial discrimination among immigrant communities, and race and ethnicity in the psychotherapeutic process. Widely published, Tummula-Narra has authored: “Psychotherapy with South Asian Women:  Dilemmas of the Immigrant and First Generations” (Women and Therapy); “Psychoanalytic Applications in a Diverse Society” (Psychoanalytic Psychology) and co-authoredPerceived Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms Among Immigrant-Origin Adolescents” (Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology); “Violence Exposure and Mental Health Among Adolescents:  The Role of Ethnic Identity and Help Seeking” (Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy); and “Voices of Older Asian Indian Immigrants” (Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 2013).


“I think this is where survivors and their families will manage those feelings very differently from each other,” says Assistant Professor Usha Tummala-Narra, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist with the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. “Some people may do something to distract themselves from those memories, other people will feel they need to reflect and give it the time and space it needs to actually rethink and think through what happened.”

Three people died near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and another 264 were hurt, many critically, when two bombs were detonated. While dozens are coping with lost limbs and physical limitations, all will deal with a flood of memories of what happened one year ago, when we saw the worst of humanity, and the best.

“It could be there are sudden moments in the day when people will feel anger and helpless and at other times, they will feel a sense of relief that there were people willing to help,” says Tummala-Narra, an expert in psychological trauma. “I think both sides of it are part of that experience.”

“What will make the day really difficult is if people around them aren’t acknowledging it in some way,” says Tummala-Narra. “I think when it’s not recognized and it remains an invisible experience particularly with the very visible markers around, like a marathon coming up, this can be especially hard for survivors and families who are coping with the consequences of the tragedy.  I think having it recognized, just known and validated is really, really important.”

Media Note: Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

(617) 552-3630 (office)
(617) 943-4323 (cell)