I greatly enjoyed* and have already reaped much therapeutic mileage from Pixar's summer film, Inside Out, with its reminder that exiling the experience of sadness can often leave our lives psychically poorer, and that the basis for human empathy and connection resides in our ability to have full access to our entire range of feelings.
I also appreciated the ability of this film to portray our core emotions as incredibly salient, caricatured personalities, as this directly mirrors the work that I often do with my own clients. Externalizing strong feelings, inner states, or critical voices into visible entities can be helpful in partially de-identifying with our impulses, allowing us to view ourselves with greater neutrality and compassion. It can also be helpful in facilitating much-needed conversations with these parts of ourselves while in a supportive therapeutic atmosphere.
I can't imagine that I was the only therapist or healer to get excited over the potential applications of this film, and I would be very curious to hear from others about how they have integrated this artful bit of pop culture into their practice. Please do feel free to reply back to me with any thoughts you might have on the matter!
* Though I entered the theater expecting to cringe at least once over the portrayal of complex neuroscience and cognitive psychology concepts, I found that the only truly upsetting element was the highly size-negative/fat-shaming representation of Sadness (as held in contrast with Joy and Disgust). A less stereotypical approach at constructing their appearances would have been much welcome.
Jessica Katzman, Psy.D.
I'm a psychologist with a private practice in San Francisco's Castro District. I'm interested in harm reduction, LGBTQQIAAP issues, psychedelic integration, social justice conversations, size acceptance, and any intersections of the above. I welcome your comments!
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