„Inside Out” and inside… you

The film is an invitation to a voyage through the mind of the little girl, in order to understand who she is (ex: her personality,  memories) and how she perceives what happens to her, the people and the world around (ex: her thoughts, moods). There are presented 5 main emotionsthe control centre where they operate, doing some „foolish things”, the islands of the personality, the maze of the memory and the abyss/pit of the memory”.

Do we only have 5 emotions?

We certainly experience more emotions and “range of emotions”, from basic ones, such as anger, to more nuanced ones, such as nostalgia. The psychologist – consultant of the film, Dr. Paul Ekman, an expert in the study of emotions, through his activity in the field of “facial codification” (facial action coding system) concluded that there are 7 measurable facial expressions present in all cultures, “coded” into 7 sets of emotions. They are: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust, Surprise and Contempt. Other researches suggest that the last two are rather social emotions (by their nature) than biological. In general, most studies consider the first 5 as basic emotions, directly or indirectly connected to some neurological areas, connections and specific processes.

Memories and personality

At certain moments in her life, the little girl has formed some strong memorieswhich generated the 5 “islands of her personality” (The Island of Family, the Island of Honesty, the Island of Friendship, the Island of Imagination, the Island of Hobby), and when these memories got lost, her personality changed. Human personality does not develop exactly this way.


Each of us has 5 “islands of personality”, only they are less captivating and with different names then the one sin the film. They correspond to the 5 factors described in the representation below:

These features are “relatively stable”. Studies indicate the fact that changes in personality can be determined/caused by different situations in lifemoving to some other place, different levels of income or, maybe the most important aspect, by a good mood (feeling good 🙂.

Genes are important in as concerns personality (researches began to reveal how genes may influence certain traits of personality). Memories, though, are also very important. It is known too that experiences can mold and even modify a person*s DNAepigenetics is focused on studying this very aspects. And there is proof, from experiments with lab mice, that the olfactory memory of one can be transmitted to its offspring even over 2 generations.

The reconsolidation of memories

In the film, memories were replayed exactly, again and again, without any change. Some studies indicated, however, that by reactivating and reconsolidating a memory, its initial form can be modified or degraded. In other words, the same memory “can be seen with different eyes” (from a different perspective).

The imaginary friend

The girl had an imaginary friend when she was little. Joy and Sadness meet him when they wander among long-term memories. The imaginary friend looks like a weird creature, with a body made of cotton candy, an elephant trunk, the tail of a cat and the ability to make sounds the same way a dolphin does. Oh, yeeaaah, and his tears come out as… candies.  Bing Bong, the imaginary friend, was created by the girl*s imagination, putting together various information she got when she was little.

Despite his weirdness, this character has an absolutely wonderful role and is part of the most emotional scene in the film.

Through a very smart strategy, he was not mentioned in the promotion campaign. He is a fabulous surprise-character in both senses: as such, literally and figuratively.

His presence in the girl*s imagination is associated with a „means of transportation”, activated by a song, which is supposed to take them… to the Moon. Both of them will be the “key” for Joy to save herself  from the “abyss of forgetting” (and even of “disappearance”). Only after her third attempt she manages to rise above the abyss, through Bing Bong*s sacrifice: he jumps off and vanishes with an emotional line: Take her to the Moon for me!

A wonderful dream deserves the maximum sacrifice. It is not much different than in our life, as we usually perceive it. What is most precious in life and brings along genuine satisfaction, a feeling of fulfillment is based on sacrifice.

Discover Emotions from a Christian perspective

Read also about: „The Control Centre” of emotions, their colours and memory; or about forgetting and dreams..


Images: Pixar, Disney

Based on: The Psychology of „Inside Out”, how accurate is it?

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