Childhood Memories in Inside out Movie
Inside Out is a movie about a girl named Riley who spends her early childhood happily growing up in Minnesota with her parents. Then her family moves to California and everything changes. Riley’s life in San Francisco is very different. The story is told from the perspective of Riley’s emotions that are each portrayed as different characters. Riley’s emotions or “characters” in the movie all have their own purpose. Joy is the leader. Her main concern is to keep Riley happy. Because of this, Joy tries to keep Sadness away from Riley. Disgust keeps Riley safe from being poisoned, like when she refuses to eat her broccoli. Keeping Riley away from dangerous situations is Fear’s responsibility. Helping Riley stand up for herself and protecting her from others is Anger’s job. Emotions help us be aware and understand our lives. All emotions and memories are very important parts of development.
The opening scene of the movie shows Riley as an infant looking up at her parents cooing and smiling. The scene changes and Riley begins to cry loudly. Child development has shown that infants are born with some very basic emotions that include joy, sadness anger, disgust, surprise and fear. Even though babies have all these different emotions they can not really do anything more than wriggle, cry, and suckle to manage these emotions. Only one emotion at a time can be expressed in infants.
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Riley begins to grow up. She is shown as a toddler running around playing, coloring, and using her imagination. The physical changes in Riley’s appearance are very obvious. Cephalocaudal is this change from head to toe. It is seen in every aspect of children including height, weight and hair growth. (Belsky, 2015). The development in her gross motor skills that include large muscle movements such as running and jumping and fine motor skills that involve small coordinated movements such as drawing are also apparent. These changes happen from the age of approximately 2 until 12 years of age.
Along with the changes in physical development come other changes in Riley as well. In the book Experiencing the Lifespan, the author talks about several of the things Riley is experiencing or aware of. Self-awareness or being conscious of her own personality or individuality (Belsky, 2015) shows up in Riley. An example of this is when she is introduced to kids in her new school and has to tell about herself. Erickson states that “in middle childhood, we fully wake up to the realities of life. Relationships, academics, behavior, sports, and looks are the five areas from which elementary school children derive their self-esteem” (Belsky, 2015, p.194) You also realize that Riley’s self esteem, or the way she evaluates herself by comparing herself to others, (Belsky, 2015) may not be as strong as it could. She notices the cool girls and wants to say hi but doesn’t think she is good enough (she does not wear eye shadow like they do). Riley also has trouble with emotional regulation. She is not always able to manage her emotions. (Belsky, 2015). She shows some externalizing tendencies and acts on her immediate impulses and behaves disruptively. (Belsky, 2015) She has an outburst during hockey tryouts when she throws down her things and stomps out. She also explodes at the table and tells her dad to just shut up when asked about her day. Her emotions are becoming more complex. Out of frustration with her new life, Riley decides to run away.
Inside out also helps explain memories. In the movie, Riley’s memories are represented by colored balls, depending on the emotion associated with each memory. Our strongest memories come from emotional experiences. These can include both good and bad memories. These become part of your core memories, which are essentially important long-term memories. Riley’s frontal lobes are blooming and pruning. She is going through the process of synaptogenesis or making billions of connections between neurons. ( Belsky, 2015) When Riley falls asleep at night she enters REM sleep. During this sleep her memories are consolidated and the brain moves her most important memories from short term memory into long-term memory. The movie lets us get a glimpse into Riley’s memories, many of which are autobiographical memories. This is the process of memory where we keep ideas about ourselves and everything that has happened that involves us. Children begin to develop autobiographical memory between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. (Belsky, 2015) Many of these memories for Riley were of her old life in Minnesota. These memories can help shape different aspects of our personality and make us who we are.
Joy wants to keep all Riley’s memories good ones. She goes on a journey with Sadness to make sure this happens. Along the way she meets Riley’s imaginary friend Bingbong. Sadness talks with Bingbong and shows sympathy and feels upset when he needs help. Belsky, 2015) Theory of mind pops up on their journey. It is children’s first cognitive understanding that other people have different beliefs and perspectives form their own. (Belsky, 2015) Sadness is able to finally speak her mind. Joy finally understands that even though she and sadness share the same memory, they have different perspectives on the memory of Riley’s hockey game.
As their journey to help Riley continues, they jump aboard the Train of thought. They experience the abstract concept of loneliness. During non-objective fragmentation, they transform into crude 3D figures Next they experience deconstruction and they fall apart. Then they become two dimensional and finally non figurative where they transform into colored lines. (NEED WORK) The journey ends and Joy realizes Riley needs sadness too. The development of our emotions is vital to our survival. Our emotions help us to behave in beneficial ways. All of our emotions are important. We can’t pick and choose which ones we want. We need all of them to make us whole.
The movie ends when Riley comes home after running away. Riley’s emotions have become more mature, involved, and advanced. Her emotions are beginning to work together instead of one at a time. Riley is finally able to open up to her parents and tell them that she misses her old life. Her parents are empathic, and feel the same sadness ( Belsky, 2015) Riley feels. Her parents confess that they miss their old life as well. It is during this later childhood that children begin to understand that more than one emotion can be felt at the same time. Sometimes they can even be opposite emotions like sad and happy. Riley is happy to be back with her parents and have them understand her feelings. She has happy memories from her old life but is still sad thinking about the loss of her old life. Research on development supports emotional coaching. Parents who take the time to talk with their children about their emotions can help them learn what their emotions are and how to control them. (Belsky, 2015) Every single one of our emotions is important. They guide us throughout our lives.
We all have emotions and memories. This sounds like such a simple statement. However, in reality, it is quite complex. Even though our emotions and memories are something that you can not actually see or touch, they are very real indeed. The way we act and think are hugely influenced by our emotions and memories. Our memories can change depending on the emotion we are feeling at the time. The Disney movie Inside Out does a wonderful job teaching about understanding and identifying different emotions and memories and the cognitive development in children.