steel against

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Senior Member
I guess it means to strenghten oneself against something? Here is the context:
"The avoiding reactions tend to spread ... It can be carried to such a point that the individual is not only 'steeled against' the appeal and suffering of others, but he actually dreads appealing to their sympathy, and may, for example, conceal illness for fear of making a 'fuss' or 'scene'"
Does it mean that the individual tries not to pay attention to the fact that other people need his or her help or that they suffer? Lack of attention or rather pretending that you don't see something would be this steeling against.. Thanks for any help.
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