The Movie Inside Out

Table of Content

This film ‘Inside Out’ carefully depicts the emotions of a young girl from early childhood to middle childhood. Five emotions were expressed including Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. At times these emotions were expressed individually, other times they were expressed all at once. Riley, the main character, often felt torn between the many emotions being expressed. The question of ‘why is Riley feeling a slew of emotions now?’. After watching Inside Out, I was able to identify some key points throughout the film. Firstly, can Riley be happy without Joy? Secondly, is it okay to force happiness – is being sad bad? Thirdly, how important is sadness – does this lead towards a pathway of empathy? And finally, can being emotionally diverse help with Riley’s social environment in the future?

There was a scene in the movie where Joy and Sadness were trapped outside of headquarters (Riley’s head) and the rest of the crew, Anger, Disgust, and Fear had to take over. During this time, Riley expressed these emotions the most and the people around her weren’t sure about why Riley was acting this way. This provided the perfect segue into learning how individuals emotionally change over time. Riley’s parents were both surprised how Riley gave attitude during dinner because they were so used to the young child who was always happy-go-lucky. They failed to realize that children’s emotions change during the transition from early to middle childhood. [ch. 1 page 12-13].

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When Riley ran away, she thought going back to a familiar environment would allow her to be happy like she once was. However, she did not think about the hypothetical outcomes of where she would live, how she would eat, will she continue school, how would she get to school. Riley was in the concreate operational thought stage [ch.1 page 15], where children at this stage only think of here and now and not future possibilities – which is typically developed during the ‘formal operational though stage’.

Is it ever okay to force happiness? Maybe you want to cheer someone up or make light of a sad situation. Occasionally this may occur, but when Riley’s mother asked Riley to be happy during the most difficult experience in her life, she potentially stunted her emotional growth. Personally, I felt that moment was extremely selfish of Riley’s mother. Instead of ensuring her daughter was transitioning with their new life, she insinuated that she not be a kid, but be an adult and strong for her parents. That can be extremely overwhelming for a child, which is why Riley responded in anger.

What is empathy? Well, empathy is “the act of experiencing another person’s feelings” [ch. 5 pg 173] and this was showcased during a scene where Sadness comforted Bing Bong when he realized he was a part of Riley’s forgotten memory. Joy looked at this interaction in disbelief. She was shocked to see that she was not needed for the solution. Joy realized that some emotions are appropriate for certain experiences. A bit of mixed emotions were involved during this scene. Happiness when Big Bong and Joy reminisced on the past and sadness once Bing Bong realized his future without Riley. Once he accepted the good with the bad, he was able to move past it. A research study showed that a positive emotion can change the experience of the negative emotion by reducing its psychological excitement without abolishing the experience of the negative emption. This in turn can reduce distress without interfering with the purpose of experiencing these emotions.

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