At the request of my fellow mental health partner-in-crime, Claire, I’m writing this mini-review of Inside Out. It happens to be a brief response to the review written by Maria Yang MD as well. Read her thoughts here: http://www.mariayang.org/2015/07/12/a-review-of-inside-out-by-pixar/
First and foremost, I enthusiastically recommend the film. Pixar is masterful in the way they blend the technical, the artistic, and the ability to tell a good story, and this movie is no exception. It’s loads of fun for kids and adults. Be forewarned, though. I heard a few sniffles from both groups, including a few that seemed to be coming from me!
First off, I agree that the overarching theme of the film is that sadness should be embraced as a change agent. A positive one which moves a child and a family forward if it is allowed to run its course and interact with other emotions in a healthy way, not banished to a small circle of influence.
To paraphrase Fred, Scrooge’s nephew in one of my favorite movies of all time: “And therefore, uncle, though (sadness) has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!
I too loved the way memories, thoughts, feelings, and interactions were all made vividly real, using physical objects, subtle changes in vibrant colors, and movement. I loved the various islands and the interactions, memories, and bonds they memorialized.
I disagree somewhat with Dr. Yang about the fundamentals of sadness. To me, the fact that she was blue, lumpy, lethargic and unmotivated was perfect. The fact that she was dragged around was perfect. The gender issue is irrelevant to me.
My patients tell me that sadness often drags THEM down, keeping them on the couch, chaining them to the house, putting them in a state of constant paralytic stupor. Sadness is not dragged around by Joy. Joy is the one banished to the small circle in the other room while Sadness drags us back to the couch.
I loved the “window on the world” effect of looking out at what was happening. It was almost like we were watching a very colorful Starship Enterprise bridge populated by Kirk (I’ll let you guess which emotion he is!), and his crew. Yes, I’m showing my age, and I don’t care.
As to the interplay between emotions, behaviors and thoughts? I agree completely with Dr. Yang’s summary of this, as it fits my workaday world with patients perfectly: “I believe that they are ultimately all related and each can have primacy, depending on the circumstances.”
I firmly believe that we need to learn more about ourselves by learning about how we feel. I for one tend to overthink things, to obsess about things that I cannot change or that I should not spend another moment of time worrying about. But, alas, worry I do, because I am human.
I have found that if I am in the moment, embracing the emotion that is “in charge of the console” at that time (even if it happens to be sadness), that I am much happier. My head is clearer. My heart is more joyful. I can learn and feel and love and share and give back.
If I allow sadness or fear or jealousy or anger or ambivalence or grief or any of these to control me all the time, I am shortchanging myself. If I allow ALL of these emotions and feelings and states of mind to have their turn pushing buttons and throwing switches, working as a team, I am a much more healthy, happy human being.
Inside Out does not simply tell us these things. It shows us, with soft, fluidly changing colors, wide expanses of space in our minds, islands of safety and bonding and security, and emotions that make us human.
Most of all, and most importantly, it shows us quite clearly that if we allow our emotions full expression and do not run from any of them, that we will continue to grow, thrive, love, and live well for the rest of our lives.