Everything Wrong with Inside Out

Polly Davis A1

Inside out is the heartwarming tale of what is really going on inside our heads. It follows Riley, an 11 year old girl and the emotions inside her head: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust. That is until everything goes awry, causing Joy and Sadness to be expelled from Riley's headquarters all the while Anger, Fear, and Disgust try to pick up the pieces. All the while, Riley goes crazy. You laugh, you cry, you generally feel all the feels. All emotions aside, what is wrong with Inside Out?

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In the movie Riley's "core memories" are the memories that define her personality. These are memories that are stored in headquarters and are guarded by the emotions. The main conflict within the plot of the movie is due to Riley's core memories being lost. While "core memories" are fictional, Flashbulb Memories are very real. Flashbulb Memories are vivid memories that are retained for a lifetime. (Meyers, 2006) Similarly, the real process by which Long Term Memory is stored and recalled is merely grazed over. Long term memory is the final stage of Atkinson and Shiffrin's dual memory model where data in the form of a code is stored for long periods of time and can be recalled at any time. (Mastin, 2010) In the movie Long Term Memory is characterized as a winding network of shelves of memory orbs, rather than strings of code within neurons in the brain. Also, it seems as though all memories that Riley had made throughout the day are sent to long term memory after she falls asleep. This is incorrect. Though it is not stated explicitly, I assume the memories that are storied in headquarters are Riley's Short Term Memories. Short Term Memory is where a small amount of information is stored in a readily variable state for a short period of time. (Mastin, 2010) If this information is rehearsed it will be stored in the Long Term Memory, if it is not it will be forgotten. Forgetting is when the synaptic connections between the neurons used to store memories are weakened over time or a new network of neurons forms over it. (Mastin, 2010) However, neurons dying are not included in Inside Out. Rather, the memory orbs turn grey and small blobs come by with a hose collecting them. That hose sends them to an abyss where the orbs become destroyed.

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The James-Lange Theory of Emotion states that our emotions are the results of physiological events. ("James-Lange Theory of Emotion," 2016) In Inside Out, it seems as though emotions cause physiological events, the complete opposite of the James-Lange Theory. For example, when Riley is introducing herself to the class, Sadness touched the control panel which causes her to cry. Another inconsistency in Inside Out is the emotions themselves.There are six Universal Emotions. These are Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Surprise. (Calistra, 2015) All of those emotions, with the exception of surprise, are represented in this movie.

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Overall, Inside Out, though it is not factually correct it gives a basic overview of how emotions and memory work. 4/5 Stars. 1 and 1/2 thumbs up.


Calistra, C. (2015). the Universally Recognized Facial Expressions of Emotion. Retrieved from https://www.kairos.com/blog/the-universally-recognized-facial-expressions-of-emotion

James-Lange Theory of Emotion. (2016). Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/james_lange_emotion.htm

Myers, C. (2006). Flashbulb Memory. Retrieved from http://www.memorylossonline.com/glossary/flashbulbmemory.html

Mastin, L. (2010). Long-Term Memory. Retrieved from http://www.human-memory.net/types_long.html