How Schiele’s artworks show psychological compensations
Aktualisiert: 17. Aug. 2021
Lead authentically and differentiated with high level of awareness
In the context of leadership and career, mental illnesses such as depression, ego weakness, personality disorder, burnout syndrome and narcissism are often used as a matter of fact. This led to the concept of resilience meteorically gaining prominence. What is quickly and superficially thematized and put into boxes, can in no way do justice to those affected. The inner life and the resulting external effect are the result of a long, incomparable life journey. The sum of all experiences makes the uniqueness of people. With all our unprocessed weaknesses, strengths and applied potential.
To expose the inner potentials, a profound personality development is required. This includes reflecting on one’s own psyche. As self-evident as body care and hygiene are embodied in our culture, the treatment of mental stability requires differentiated attention with a focus on self-development. Anyone who neglects or even negates the “psycho-hygiene” with its contained fears, patterns and weaknesses risks becoming mentally and physically unstable and unwell over time.
100 years ago, the Austrian artist Egon Schiele presented psychological content with the most intense expressiveness. The following digression with two of his self-portraits shows profound topics and development potentials with the help of symbolic translation and associative contemplation. Not Schiele’s thoughts are interpreted, but rather attention to the symbolism and his own feelings are paid, which triggers the depicted. If the viewer leans on personal associations, he succeeds in bringing inner patterns and processes to light.
This self-portrait created in 1910 symbolizes the expression of the intellectually controlling abilities as well as the power of action and locomotion through the concise shaping and intensive coloring of the head, the hand and the leg indicated on the lower edge of the picture. The angular lines, the strong expression of the face and the red eyes represent insecurity as well as dominance. Schiele renounced entirely on the painting of the robe. This associates a reduced body or a floating shell which,
in contrast to head and limbs, has an incredible effect.
This emptiness symbolizes people whose inner personal areas of feelings, needs and instincts remain empty and unfulfilled. They have lost contact with each other by identifying with performance and successes in the outside world. Usually these people are dependent on the feedback of others and therefore function reactive and undifferentiated.
In the outward-looking business world of superlatives of more, faster and bigger, the inside look is pushed completely to the side. The inner voice is silent and meaningful questions remain unanswered. The original source of life and energy is drying up. Psychology offers ways inwards and gives answers to psychodynamic processes that work in people and are constantly triggered from the outside. Because everything that moves a person, be it in a pleasant or unpleasant way, has to do with oneself. With a low level of awareness, one’s own problem is projected onto others and the potential for conflict is increased, which in turn makes it difficult to find constructive solutions. For example, critical feedback might be met with defense. With a high level of awareness, it is possible to reflect the subjective insult and to understand that, for example, the lack of self-esteem led to the pain and the defense. The self-responsible analysis of the triggered inner pattern and the potential for development contained therein is dealt with. For example, this can lead to a healthy self-awareness. Accordingly, the event is dealt with objectively by all participants and an adequate further development and design of the work situation is possible.
In this self-portrait, which was painted three years later, Schiele emphasizes the use of gesture and color in contrasting ways, as in the previous work. The orange robe stands for a strong, personal relationship to the emotional, physical and instinctive life force. The sensual expression with the closed eyes represents the attention directed inwards. Through the forehead wrinkles the inside look does not appear passive at all but rather a search and struggle for deeper essential insights.
If a person directs the self-critical discussion too much inward with too little distance to the subjective feeling, this can have an inhibiting effect on the spontaneous development of potential. Constant self-doubt and questioning absorb the power that would be necessary for a lively exterior design.
The balanced psychological confrontation with oneself is an invaluable benefit for executives and decision makers. Because everyone has their sunny sides and shadow themes, which are destructive, preventing and exhausting in displacement. Even if a very difficult person gets along relatively well with themselves, they usually pose an unbearable burden on the environment, especially in their role as superiors. If they are also taken over by a selfish omnipotence, they can be unaware of the responsibility they have and the burden they put onto others. When too many stress factors come together in the individual, the psyche compensates with counter-reactions or breaks down.
The development of inner processes should be accompanied by coaches and counselors with high psychological competence. Their own reflection competence and personality development play a decisive role here. For only those who have explored and integrated their own depths can surely accompany others in their deep development of personality and potential. The way inwards is not only worthwhile for those affected. The companies also benefit. Executives and decision makers get through the serious, individual confrontation with strength and support. They are clearer, more decisive and more authentic in their attitude and all their actions. An immense amount of valuable potential lies on the inner levels, waiting to be activated and used on the outside.
Self-portrait,1910, Egon Schiel