Disney and Pixar’s latest feature animation, Inside Out, navigates the difficulties and joys of being human. Primarily set in the mind of 11-year-old Riley, whose family has just moved from Minnesota to San Fransisco, we get an internal view of the struggles that go along with moving to a new city and starting a new life. In the movie, each of Riley’s emotions (Anger, Fear, Sadness, Disgust, and Joy), are characters who are in conflict with one another. The movie stresses the importance of our relationships with the things we all value most in life, such as family, friends, fun and the memories, all of which influence our personalities.

The psychological and emotional elements that come together in Inside Out are similar to the elements of a technique often used by hypnotherapists, known as Parts Therapy.

What is Parts Therapy?

Parts Therapy is used to resolve internal conflict and involves the idea that there are two or more “parts” that are in conflict with each other, holding you back from making whatever changes you want to make in your life. For example, imagine for a moment that you are a smoker – there is a part of you that wishes to continue smoking despite the fact that another part of you knows full well that smoking is not good for your health and that you should really quit.

How Does it Work?

During Parts Therapy, a hypnotherapist will prompt you to identify each conflicting part. Then, you will be asked to describe what that part means to you so that you can gain rapport with it. If you were a smoker, you might name the part of you that wishes to continue smoking ‘smoker’ or ‘rebel,’ and describe it as something that keeps you calm and relaxed. Ultimately, this part motivates you to continue smoking. You might name the part of you that wishes to stop smoking ‘healthy’ or ‘freedom,’ and explain that this part wants you to be healthy and free of guilt. Through Parts Therapy, both of these parts will become a whole and come to an agreement that they will work together to help accomplish your goal.

How Does it Relate to Inside Out?

In the movie, Anger, Fear, Sadness, Disgust, and Joy work in Riley’s mind, at a facility called Headquarters. They take turns controlling Riley’s actions using a video game-like console, but they are ultimately working to balance each other out and ensure Riley’s happiness and health. Joy is their leader and she wants Riley to be happy. A fairy-like character full of positivity and whimsy, Joy is unable to understand anyone else’s priorities and motivations, particularly Sadness’ priorities and motivations. The two of them are constantly in disagreement. Sadness, a melodramatically melancholic and perpetually distressed character, seems to find ways to creep in and attach herself to Riley’s memories and into her everyday life.

Much like the “parts” of a person working together to resolve an important issue through Parts Therapy, Sadness and Joy come to the mutual understanding that they are both equally important to their human’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Just like in reality, Sadness is what puts Joy into perspective, and vice versa.