The Pixar team has honed their ability to combine humor and creativity without shying away from deeper human emotions. Their new film, Inside Out, centers on the emotions, memories, personality and meaning found by the young protagonist as she tries to cope with moving to a new city and school, while on the verge of adolescence. The film offers insight into the value of sadness, one of those human experiences (along with anxiety, fear, and anger) that many people would rather live without. Our tendency to overvalue positive emotions, often shows itself to be inadequate when we (and those we love) face difficult times and transitions. Sadness, in particular, cues us to the fact that we have lost touch with something or someone important to us. It helps us empathically connect with others, and lets others know that we need their help. Sadness and anxiety often lead people into therapy, but it is important to know that they are not the enemy. As one viewer notes, the film reminds us of the words often repeated by therapists, "it is ok to feel sad." A life without anxiety or sadness is likely also a life without contentment or joy. They are a part of the greater human whole.
The film also explores the role of memories, and in particular "core memories" that help shape our personality, experiences, and identity. We see how core memories fall away when their meaning no longer holds in our present reality. In those times, new experiences, memories, and the full range of emotion are needed as we work to re-understand, and sometimes recreate, ourselves, our relationships, and our world.
Treat your children, nieces and nephews, neighbor kids, or your own inner child to Inside Out. Don't forget the popcorn... or the tissues.
About the Author
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kristy Novinski contributes insights, book and film reviews, discussions of pop culture, and exploration of news and research in the field of psychology.