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"Compassion in Social Condemnation"

Marta Sytniewski

Oil on Canvas,  

36" x 48"

100% original, 100% hand panted

COPYRIGHT©Marta Sytniewski 2010.

 

PAINTING DESCRIPTION:

 

          Compassion is a combination of empathy, sympathy and an intense drive toward action aimed at alleviating the suffering of another person. Empathy is the ability to understand the affective state another person and to experience a comparable affect (Rueckert & Naybar, 2008). Sympathy is a tender, caring and sorrowful emotion aimed toward someone who is suffering. The foreground figure of the women in the white dress in this painting embodies the virtue of compassion in its epitomic form. Fueled by empathy and sympathy, she falls on her knees with a passionate force toward the laying man to provide aid for him. Psychological research (Hoffman, 1986/1984; Hume,1966) found that prosocial behavior, helping behavior, and altruism, self-sacrificial helping behavior, is modulated by both sympathy and empathy. It was found that the greater the reported degree of empathy and sympathy experienced by a participant, the greater his or her potential of prosocial behavior and altruism (Eisenberg, 1986). The women in the white dress reflects these psychological findings.

 

           The women in this painting is single-mindedly compelled toward helping the laying man, in spite of social condemnation and disapproval. Social disapproval and social humiliation has been found in recent studies (Deutsch & Lamberti, 1986; Satow, 1975; Crowne, 1979) to play a predominant role in behavior modification and behavior inhibition. Socio-psychological research (Deutsch & Lamberti, 1986; Hampson, 1984) consistently found social disapproval and social humiliation to constitute the most influential form of non-physical punishment in humans. The women in the white dress contradicts the above mentioned research findings, in that she is compelled toward altruism and she portrays unsuppressed compassion, despite overwhelming social disapproval. The intense, gestural and emotionally charged social condemnation from the people in the middle plain of this painting toward the women in the white dress and her act of altruism is nearly violent.

 

           Numerous studies found that participants empathize and sympathize less with an individual if they perceive him to him as capable of alleviating his own pain (Hirschberger, 2010), as being responsible for his own suffering (Eisenberg, 1986; Batson & Ahmad, 2001), and as deserving his own suffering (Hen, Fan & Mao, 2008; Batson & Ahmad, 2001). In this painting, the man laying on the foreground is physically fit and able to ease his own pain and to provide for his basic needs (i.e. water). His arm is punctured with evident needle wounds from probably self-inflicted injections of illegal drugs. By his own actions, the laying man is responsible for his suffering. This man is in anguish from several probable reasons: drug use, overdose, withdrawal, or he simply may be displaying a call for help through the act of self-endangerment. In either case, the laying man is suffering because of his bad choices and bad behaviors. Therefore, the laying man can easily be viewed as deserving of his present state.

 

           Psychological research would predict that the empathy and sympathy experienced toward the laying man would be minimal or non-existent. The group of figures that stand above the laying man illustrate the previously mentioned psychological findings, in that they do not empathize with him. However, this is not the case with the women in the white dress; she embodies the virtuous forms of empathy and sympathy. She is deliberately sensitive and intoned to the needs of others and she intentionally attempts to understand and associate with difficulties of other people. In her motion to help the laying man, she gently looks up with concern and tenderness toward the group that condemns her. Her gaze is gentle, alert, and welcoming, as if she was able to see the good in the people above her, understand their concerns, and be willing to help them as well.

 

           The virtuous form of compassion portrayed in this painting, persists in spite of physical capability, personal faults and past behavior of people at whom it is directed. The perception of another person in pain evokes in some people the affect of personal distress. Personal distress is feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, aggravation, embarrassment, and nervousness in response to seeing another person suffer (Wood, Saltzberg & Goldsamt, 1990). Contrary to empathy, personal distress is egoistic, it focuses on the affects experienced by oneself and it remains indifferent and ignorant of the other person’s suffering (Einsenberg, Schroeder, Fabes, et al., 1988). Research ( Batson, 1987; Eisenberg, Shea, Fabes, et al., 1989; Schroeder, Dovidio, Sibicky, Matthews, & Allen, 1988), found that personal distress most often leads to ignorance, avoidance and inaction in regard to the suffering of the other person. This painting represents both psychological and emotional aspects of personal distress. None of the people in the standing group is looking at the laying man, they all ignore him and indulge in personal distress. Every person in the group above the laying man is expressing a different emotional reaction including shock, outrage, disgust, confusion and aggravation. Their hand gestures and body language are bold.

 

           Evident dominant figures govern the overall sensation of the group, this phenomena is known as emotional contagion in psychological research (Sonny-Borgstorm, Jonsson & Svensson, 2008). Emotional contagion takes place when one or more members of a group displays intense emotional reactions that are mimicked and assimilated, in a comparable form, by the remaining members of the group (Dasborough et al., 2009). Emotional contagion is a affect shared within a group, that often lacks the cognitive understanding of the other people and kindness involved in empathy. The group in this painting vividly illustrates emotional contagion.

 

           The instance of directional and goal-directed behaviors, such as finger pointing, yelling, and backing away, are suggestive of the beliefs of the members in this group. Psychological research (Gutsell & Inzlicht, 2010 ) has found that negative preconceived notions decrease helping behavior. Negative convictions about those who engage in self-destructive behavior and self-endangerment, may suppress the potential for sympathy, empathy and compassion. Negative convictions may limit the capacity to love. The man holding his head in this painting, has an overwhelmed body posture and a thoughtful facial expression. He looks directly at the viewer of this painting, as if to ask him, “What would you do in this situation?”. The answer to this overwhelming question is right beneath him: in spite of social condemnation, we must strive to aid the good in every person, just like the women in the white dress. We must always remember this virtuous form of compassion.   

 

INVESTMENT VALUE

 

This painting features informative, educational and socially constructive content that identifies Marta Sytniewski’s independent Significant Art Theory

 

Marta Sytniewski's oil paintings are 100% hand painted, they are not computerized and they are not printed. M. Sytniewski’s paintings are authentic 100% artist labor oil paintings.

 

No reproductions, no limited editions and no copies have been made of  this Beautiful 100% ORIGINAL Marta Sytniewski oil painting.

 

The technical difficulty, advanced skill level, complex detail, intelligent composition, continuous painting production and education (Trained in art privately, independently and academically since early childhood. Completed B.A. Psychology with highest honors, pursuing M.A. Studio Art), talent of  Marta Sytniewski and her work, and scarcity of similar art, combine to valuate Marta Sytniewski's oil paintings as especially lucrative assets with positive and fast-paced projected investment growth.

 

Marta Sytniewski paintings, her Significant Art Theory and her signature are protected by International and Federal Copyright and by Trademark Laws. COPYRIGHT © M.SYTNIEWSKI, 2011. All rights reserved.

 

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COMPASSION IN SOCIAL CONDEMNATION