Riley Anderson is Inside Out

Table of Content

Inside out is an animated film that brings the inside of an eleven year old’s head to life. Riley is faced with moving to an entirely new city at a young, critical age and her emotions have to help her deal with it one step at a time. Riley’s emotions include Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. When Joy and Sadness get thrown from the headquarters of Riley’s mind, they must travel together to get her core memories back to their proper place.

Out of all 5 of Riley’s emotions, Joy is the leader. She keeps everyone on track but also reminds us that all of them have an important function in Riley’s mind. She tells us that Disgust keeps Riley safe from being “poisoned”, Fear keep her safe from a catastrophe by writing down worst case scenarios, Anger protects her from others and allows her to be a better hockey player as well, while Joy guarantees that Riley is happy. However, Joy fails to see the importance of Sadness and tries to keep Sadness away from anything related to Riley. She forbids this emotion in every single way. She even draws a circle on the floor and makes Sadness stay inside it, which forbids her to leave or touch any of Riley’s memories. If she touches them, it will taint them with sad memories. While trying to keep Sadness away, Riley’s parents add on an additional pressure on her when her mother asks her to “keep smiling” for her father. Riley’s mother, unintentionally, communicates to Riley that being upset or sad about the move wasn’t okay and that she needs to pretend to be happy because this was a great opportunity for her father’s job. He needed all the support from her and her mother.

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Riley seems to be having symptoms of an Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. She has a hard time coping with her move, she withdraws from her parents and old friends, she misses school, and even tries to run away from her new home to go back to Minnesota. By being unable to experience sadness about all these changes and pretending that she was okay for her father, Riley becomes irritable, which causes a her to get into a fight with her parents and her best friend, before shutting down completely. It looks like Riley’s potential Adjustment Disorder could have turned into complete depression.

William James was known for introducing Functionalism. Functionalism is how the mind functions to adapt us to our environment. When Riley turned 11, she moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. She connected her experiences to her memories growing up, and those memories in Minnesota were happy and positive, so for her to move to a completely different environment really messed up her emotions. John B. Watson was known for introducing the relationship between stimuli and responses. Inside out is all about how our brain works and how we react to certain things that happen to us. When Riley moved to San Francisco, she was experiencing drastic changes in her life. After she moved, she started to lose that connection to her main emotion, Joy. A psychological dilemma is a conflict between personal impulses and the social world. Riley’s whole world flipped upside down when she moved. Everything she knew had changed and she was having a really hard time trying to adapt to all those changes.

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Riley Anderson is Inside Out. (2022, Feb 01). Retrieved from

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