Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Disgust

Purpose:  To prevent you from being poisoned physically or socially.

Appearance:  Green and in a permanent snear

Catchphrase: “Ugh!”

When in charge makes you: Look out for things that will make you look silly or get ‘poisoned’

Favourite pastimes: Making yourself look cool

Moment of glory: Coming up with the plan to use anger’s energy to let joy and sadness back into headquarters

Moment of shame: Agreeing to anger’s plan in the first place

·        Keeps you safe from not fitting in socially
·        Keeps you from eating something disgusting or dangerous

·        Can be over-sensitive to the wrong things (such as broccoli!)
·        Can be hurtful to others (when expressing contempt and being sarcastic)

How to manage wisely
Listen to what disgust has to say but don’t assume it is wise and be careful that it doesn’t lead you to hurt others

Contempt, aversion, disapproval

Meet Mindy Kaling as Disgust

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Anger

Purpose: Stops people from treating your unfairly

Appearance: Short, red, bursts into flames when really angry

Catchphrase: “Congratulations, San Francisco, you’ve just RUINED PIZZA. First the Hawaiians, and now you”

When in charge makes you: Look out for injustices and then react very strongly to them without thinking

Favourite pastime: Reading the  “The Mind Reader” newspaper

Moment of Glory:  Using its energy to make a hole to let Joy and Sadness back  into headquarters

Moment of Shame: That lightbulb moment of devising  the escape plan and convincing the other emotions it was such a good idea

·        Can stop others taking advantage of you
·        Can give you energy to take action

·        Often  over-sensitive to perceived injustice (who wouldn’t be, if your favourite reading was “The Mind Reader”)
·        Can express itself in an unhelpful way (like escaping to Minnesota)

How to manage wisely:
Notice what anger is making you aware of, take a breath and decide whether that’s the whole story and how best to deal with it constructively

Relatives: Fury, annoyance, irritation

Meet Lewis Black as Anger

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Joy

Meet Sadness

Meet Fear

Meet Disgust

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Sadness

Purpose: To help you get support when you need it

Appearance: Blue

Catchphrase: “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems”

When in charge, makes you:- Slow down and think a lot, usually in a negative way

Favourite Pastime:  Sitting down and crying

Moments of Glory: When Riley misses the winning goal at hockey her being sad leads to her friends and family making her realise how much she is loved.  Consoling Bing Bong when his rocket is taken from him.

Moment of Shame: Riley crying in front of everyone in her first day at her new school

·        Helps you understand and empathise with other people when they are sad
·        May give you time to slow down and try to understand what is going wrong
·        Lets people know you need support

·        Sadness can be overwhelming
·        Can be unhelpful to focus only on sad things
·        Can take the joy out of a situation

 How to manage wisely:
When something bad has happened, allow yourself to feel sad and to express sadness
At the same time don’t let sadness spoil things with negative thinking when things are going well

Relatives: Depression, Sorrow, Dejection

Meet Phyllis Smith as Sadness

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Joy

Meet Anger

Meet Fear

Meet Disgust

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Joy

Purpose: To keep you happy and positive

Appearance: A glowing collection of yellow energy particles

Catchphrase: “Perfect Day, Nice Job everybody”

When in charge, makes you:  Be happy, regardless of what’s happening

Favourite pastime:  Cheerleading with positive energy

Moments of Glory: Helping Riley be so happy – most of the time …       

Moment of Shame:  Thinking sadness had no useful role

·        Helps make you happy & popular
·        Motivates you to do things – even when the going is tough
·        Makes things fun for other people too

·        Can underestimate dangers
·        Doesn’t work in every situation
·        Being overly positive isn’t always what people need when they are upset

How to manage wisely
Allow joy full expression when there is nothing difficult to deal with, but let the other emotions in the rest of the time.

Relatives:  Happiness, Satisfaction, Enthusiasm, Positivity

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Anger

Meet Sadness

Meet Fear

Meet Disgust

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Why you should watch Inside Out (even if you don't have kids!)

Sometimes kid's stories aren't just for kids - think the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Toy Story, Up - come to think of it some of the most entertaining, funny - and sad - films are officially for kids!

Pixar's summer blockbuster Inside Out certainly comes into this category. I saw it with my family and absolutely loved it. It ticks all the boxes for good family entertainment. In this post, though, I won't be reviewing its merits as a film (though I'll stick my neck out here and say its worth a shilling each way to  be the first animated film to win Best Film Oscar (currently 12-1 with Paddy Power!).

Here are for me the 3 reasons why Inside Out is enlightening

1) Joy is good

Joy is good, happiness is good, we are all good ....

The film starts off as if it is a cheerleader for the psychology of happiness. Riley  is happy, she is fun and it's the joyful part of her personality that's in charge. For most of the time, it's good for joy to be in charge. We wouldn't want to be without joy, and it's nice to be around people with that side of their character to the fore. Joy motivates us to do  stuff and makes other people want to be with us when we are doing them.

2) But there's room for other sides of our personality too...

There are times when we need the other sides to our personality - anger, disgust, sadness - hey, even sadness.
Anger protects us from unfairness
Disgust keeps us safe from poison
Fear keeps us away from danger
Sadness  helps others know that we need help.

These 5 characters are based on Paul Ekman's 5 basic emotions.

3) We need to make room for each emotion and also decide which one should be in charge at which time.

In the film, there is no "self" deciding which emotion takes charge - they just kind of intuitively decide amongst themselves which should take charge of the console.
This may not be the most accurate portrayal of how our minds work. One of the aims of practical philosophies like Stoicism and psychotherapies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and CFT (Compassion Focussed Therapy) is to help develolop a part of you that can take control and act wisely.
In Stoicism, this part is reason, which you train to act in accordance with courage, wisdom, self-control and justice. The emotions would be subordinate to reason - which is another way of saying that we should have wise emotions.
In CBT we train the rational part of our mind to notice our thoughts and thereby influence our emotions. For example, with fear or anxiety we train ourselves to be more aware of jumping to conclusions and catastrophising.
In CFT we aim to develop a compassionate part of ourselves - compassion being a composite of warmth,  wisdom, responsibilty and courage  and to bring this "on-line" when we need it.

In my therapeutic practice I find that all of these three ideas can work well

Explore  the Psychology of Inside Out

Psychology of Inside Out  by Janina Scarlet

A Conversation With the Psychologist Behind 'Inside Out'

Pixar's 'Inside Out' is a surprisingly accurate look at human psychology — 

here's what it gets right and wrong

8 Things Inside Out teaches viewers

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Fear

Purpose: Keeps you safe from danger

Appearance: Purple, like a nerve ending

Catchphrase: “If we get through a day alive, I call that a success”

When in charge, makes you: Focus on everything that can go wrong

Favourite pastime:- Making a list of all the potential disasters

Moment of Glory: Waking Riley up which helps Sadness and Joy get back to Headquarters quicker

Moment of Shame: Not stopping the escape plan – that would have been a good time for Fear to be in charge and say "No Way"

·        Keeps you aware of  and away from dangers

·        May see dangers where there are aren’t (afraid of its own shadow)
·        May exaggerate the dangers (make mountains out of molehills)
·        May not take the best action to deal with the dangers (for example may worry without solving the problem)

How to manage wisely:
Listen to what fear is telling you, but don’t let it overwhelm you and don’t assume that its presenting a balanced or realistic view

Relatives: anxiety, worry, alarm, panic

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Joy

Meet Sadness

Meet Anger

Meet Disgust