Use movies to interpret the “emotional little man” in the brain

  Throughout the ages, people still don’t have a definite answer to “what is emotion”, but all the clues point to our brain, as our “processor”, the brain’s response to external stimulus information seems to be the source of emotion. Most of the theories about how emotions arise are esoteric and complicated, and it is difficult for ordinary people to read them. Fortunately, in 2015, a cartoon hoped to tell people these complicated theories in a relaxed way, and it was a big success. This is the animated movie “Inside Out”. Let’s take a lighter look at what emotions really are.
  More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greek scholar Aristotle called human beings rational animals. In 2013, two psychologists, Kenrick and Grisk Vesis, co-published a book explaining human behavioral decision-making, called “Rational Animals”. In the book, the author presupposes 7 thinking modules in the human brain, also known as 7 secondary selves, which are self-protection type, disease avoidance type, social type, social status type, mate selection type, and retention type. Spouse type and parenting type, these modules “take turns” in our brains, they will appear in specific environments, and when they appear, this secondary self “takes power” and controls our brains. This “modular” theory has attracted the attention of many psychologists as soon as it was launched, and has become a revolutionary theory. And two years later, “Inside Out” was born, telling people that the five villains representing emotions, Lele, Youyou, Anger, Fear and Disgust, constitute the decision-making mechanism of our brains, thus controlling us Emotions.
Where do “emotions” come from?

  The brain is a mysterious organ. All thoughts, emotions, and cognitions are produced by the brain, but the things produced by the brain are so illusory, invisible and intangible. Where are these “little people”? How do our emotions arise?
  In 1970, American neurologist Paul McClean proposed the three-brain theory, arguing that the structure of the brain has also undergone continuous evolution to become what it is today. The first stage of evolution of our brain occurred 250 million years ago. It was called the reticular brain, also known as the primitive brain or the reptilian brain. There were no humans at that time. The innermost part of the brain is connected to the main nervous system at the root of the spine. At this time, the brain does not have any thoughts or emotions, but simply automatically controls conditioned reflex activities for survival and maintains the most basic life functions, such as heartbeat, breathing, eating, and escape. , reproduction and other functions, these activities are like emotions engraved in our lives, and ordinary people cannot control these functions. We need to eat when we are hungry, we will avoid a car approaching, and we will run for our lives in case of fire. These are all controlled by the reptilian brain.
  By 50 million years ago, the mammalian brain evolved on the basis of the reptile brain. At this time, the brain had an additional layer of emotional brain, also known as the mammalian brain, which is obviously owned by mammals. Because of the existence of the mammalian brain, mammals have richer sensory functions and emotional systems: emotions or concepts such as excitement, fear, social interaction, reciprocity, parenting, and even family are all generated by the mammalian brain. Later, advanced mammals including humans evolved a visual brain, which is unique to advanced mammals and where the conscious mind is born. The cortical brain controls cognitive functions, including language, learning, memory, planning, Functions such as reasoning and thinking occupy about two-thirds of the entire brain volume, and this is the source of our most accessible daily thinking activities.
  The mutual cooperation and restriction of these three structures form our emotions and processing mechanisms today. Our brain adopts a dual-track mode in emotional processing. When receiving external stimuli, the information will first be transmitted to the limbic system, and the limbic system will first produce the most basic emotional responses. Most of these emotional responses are survival responses, such as watching Seeing something slender and snake-like, the lactating brain automatically generates the emotion of fear that keeps us from danger. But at the same time, this information will also be transmitted to the neocortex of our brain, and the neocortex will also judge this information: is this slender thing a snake or a rope? If it is a rope, the neocortex will send a signal to the lactating brain, Ask the lactating brain to stop overreacting. However, the conditioned emotional response speed is very fast, while the judgment of the neocortex takes more time, which also makes it easy for people to generate emotions first, and then decide whether to close it through judgment.
  Through research, it is found that the amygdala in the human brain is mainly responsible for the generation of stress emotions, participates in the process of emotion generation, and forms reactions such as changes in breathing, cold sweats, erected hairs, and dilated pupils. memory to judge. Of course, the activities of the brain are very complicated, and not every time people can easily control the emotional system as in the previous example, for example, some specific emotions will stimulate the hippocampus to extract strong emotional memories of related stimuli, so that We have very strong emotional reactions to many normal phenomena, such as trauma, war and other sequelae are caused by this mechanism. These complex mechanisms lead to our cortical brain being unable to effectively intervene in emotions in many cases, which will cause our emotions to be completely out of control.
A film embodies emotions

  Until today, people have only just touched the edges of how the brain works, and emotions and psychology are even more “black box” problems, because most of the phenomena about emotions and psychology are still controversial in various genres. In the “hardest-hit area”, the explanation of a phenomenon often brings out a large and complex conceptual structure, while the simple and popular explanations often go the other way and form wrong views. So when the movie “Inside Out” was released, many people watched it with a wrong eye, but the cleverness of this movie is that it only uses the emotions of a little girl as the main line, which makes complex emotions The problem is greatly simplified, and the most classic and well-behaved psychological concepts are basically selected in the movie, so that ordinary people can understand it and get a glimpse of the whole process of our emotional generation and operation.
  The story chooses Laili, an ordinary little girl from an ordinary family, as the protagonist. From the moment Laili was born and opened her eyes, the “Lele” representing happy emotions appeared. This is telling us: before we can express it in words, Emotions have already begun to operate in our brains when we are in the self. It knows everything about us and understands us better than words. When Riley had her first interaction with her parents — who looked at her lovingly and said, “Look at you, what a happy little angel” — that interaction left a memory in our brains Small ball, and this process also allows us to form our first cognition of ourselves. At this time, Riley certainly didn’t understand what “happy little angel” meant, but as a newborn she instinctively felt safe and relaxed, which happened to be in charge of “Lele”. It is in the countless times of such emotional interactions in the future that the feedback given to us by important people forms a kind of imprint in our brains, and this imprint gradually forms our cognition of ourselves. It is formed along with emotions, and emotions are an important factor in the formation of this cognition.

  Of course, only the emotion of “Lele” is not enough, so soon there are “worry” next to the “console” of the brain, and then “fear” representing fear, “angu” and “angu” representing anger appear. The “disgust” represents disgust, so the “console” in Riley’s brain becomes larger, and as people grow up, the enrichment of receiving information and the enhancement of processing ability allow us to have more diverse emotions and emotions. More complex compound emotions. The change in Riley’s life happened when she was 11 years old. They moved that year. It was originally an irresistible little thing in life, but it had a great impact on Riley’s emotions and promoted the following plots. development of.
  Why is it 11 years old? Screenwriter and director Pete Docter was also confused by his 11-year-old daughter’s depression, so he consulted a psychologist and decided to make a movie about how emotions work in the brain. In terms of psychology, the age of about 11 years old is the stage of people’s cognitive development. Changes in cognitive methods cause children to change the way they process information when they receive external information, and most of the children’s psychological disorders occur during this period. . When life changes, Riley unconsciously has a lot of negative emotions, sadness, fear, denial, avoidance… At this time, “Lele”, who has always been in the dominant position, tried every means to stop these emotions, ” Lele” has always been the main motivator of Riley’s childhood, she wanted Riley to be happy all the time, just like Riley’s parents wanted her to be a happy little girl forever: Mom told her to “keep smiling” and be happy all the time, so ” Lele” was also sick at the beginning, she frantically wanted to give Riley happy memories, wishing that Riley’s life would be happy. So she began to ignore and suppress other emotions. What she dislikes the most is “sorrow”, thinking that sadness is superfluous, and when “angry”, “disgusted” and “scared” play the memory ball in her mind, she Always swapping someone else’s memory ball for a happy one, too, and still does when Riley’s life changes.
  But these happiness are all false: Riley pretends to be happy eating pizza with her mother, pretends to be happy playing ice hockey with her father, pretends to be happy to face every day after the change… This so-called “recovery” of denying and avoiding other emotions “Normal” is actually a defense mechanism. This defense mechanism to protect our fragile mind is sometimes effective, but sometimes it is not so strong, especially when people’s lives undergo major changes.

Paul McLean who proposed the three-brain theory.

Three brain theory

  In the story, Riley’s feigned happiness was praised by her mother, who thanked Riley for being so sunny and happy when her life changed, and it was this feedback that kept “Lele” in Riley’s emotional control. upper hand. This kind of unconscious thinking about her parents is deeply rooted in Riley’s life, and this influence also makes it difficult for her to jump out of this relatively solid subconscious and see what she really is like. Under the influence of happiness, Riley had a rift with her true self. Trying to pretend to be happy puts extra pressure on Riley. She spends a lot of time pretending to be happy, but other emotions don’t disappear, but are repressed into our subconscious. On the first day of the new school, the forced happiness that symbolizes parental feedback and the sadness that symbolizes self-emotions conflict. Riley feels the true reflection of her emotions brought about by the changes in her life, but she has to work hard to maintain what her parents want. “Happy all the time”, so at this time Riley lost herself and wanted to retreat and escape. And “Lele” couldn’t suppress those emotions anymore, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and pain all burst out. People always hope that happiness is the background of life, and they all hope to be happy forever. Only happy emotions are good, but blindly pursuing happiness and denying the existence of other emotions is often counterproductive. People need to grow up and experience negative emotions such as sadness, fear, and disgust before they can gradually become a complete individual. And many psychological experiments have also shown that excessive optimism often hinders us.
We like to be happy, but we must learn to accept sadness

  When “Lele” and “Yanyou” helped Riley find herself together, they discovered that the same memory ball can be turned into a yellow happy ball or a sad blue ball. In fact, much of our happiness is born on the basis of sadness. Every sadness in our emotions is actually an opportunity for the birth of happiness. “Sadness” is a less likable character from the start, just like we don’t like to face sadness, people always have a lot of prejudice against their own negative emotions. But sadness is one of the first emotions we experience, and every change of circumstance, every stage of life, always produces a sad mood: Riley moved, left her usual place, left her old friends, she felt overwhelmed by sadness But she didn’t want to face such emotions either. The same is true for people in life. When people leave their hometown, relatives and friends pass away, and life is not going well, they will always be shrouded in sadness. Although many people will comfort you, “Don’t be sad, don’t be sad, think about happy things “, but sadness will not disappear out of thin air, people can only choose to face it and accept it.

1. Peter Docter, writer and director of the movie “Inside Out”. 2. Anxiety and Lele in the movie “Inside Out”. 3. In the film, the little man in the head controls the “emotional island” of each of us through the console. 4. The Riley family from the movie Inside Out. 5. The character “Popsicle” is Riley’s imaginary good friend, and maybe it is the goodness we have lost.

  Although sadness is a slow, faint emotion, the state of sadness also produces changes in our brains that deepen our memories, enhance our ability to gather information and observe details, and allow us to respond to the situation. The body becomes more active during negative emotions, so as to further understand the environment and oneself. Moreover, sadness is an individual emotion that is not contagious. On the contrary, collective grief also tends to make people recover faster and face life again.
  Sometimes what happiness can’t do, sadness can often do, just like in the movie when “Popsicle” is unhappy, “Lele” wants him to be happy but can’t do it anyway, but “Sorrow” a few words The words made “popsicle” cry, but after crying, “popsicle” recovered instead. This is the power of sadness. Many people have been taught not to cry since they were young. It seems that crying is not a good child, but in many cases, crying is a good medicine for self-healing. Every sad memory and emotion in life is to create an opportunity for us to vent It also creates an opportunity for us to face ourselves.

  The same is true for other negative emotions. The “disgust” that represents disgust is always aimed at a specific thing. For example, when facing green broccoli, “disgust” will jump out. It is a kind of reaction when facing a possible threat. defensive mode. It is also a defensive mode, and the “fear” that represents fear conveys a very valuable signal, an instinctive response to physical or emotional danger, reminding people to be careful. But different from disgust, fear is more closely related to memory. Sometimes we feel fear inexplicably. In fact, after this inexplicable, it may be because certain things or scenes activate certain events or traumas deep in memory. And moments of fear are often times when we confront our deepest consciousness.
  Anger, which represents anger, is the strongest negative emotion. In common sense, anger often represents irrationality, destructiveness, and illogicality. However, studies have shown that the emotional expression of anger does not destroy rational thinking. On the contrary, anger helps us to establish rational thinking. People in a state of anger are more willing to be exposed to different views and opinions, and do things while reducing prejudice. make a rational judgment. Anger is more of a signal, a sign of boundaries being violated, an expression of resistance to stress, anger is powerful because it carries the momentum to change. Riley wanted to run away from home in anger. Her anger was seen by her father. Dad offered help and wanted to find happiness with Riley, but Dad used the wrong method. He did not face the emotions with Riley. , but just hoped that Riley could get back that “happy little angel”, so Dad failed. In the end, only after Riley faced her own emotions and accepted her negative emotions did she truly complete the transition from “what others think of me” to “the real me”.
There is also a “lost beauty” in the brain

  The character “Popsicle” is a good friend imagined by Riley. He is a combination of elephants, cats, marshmallows, and dolphins. Of course, such creatures do not exist in the world of adults and science. He only exists in child’s heart. Everyone seems to have had a “popsicle”, they are the product of rich imagination in childhood, because there is not so much stereotyped knowledge and social common sense in childhood, so every “popsicle” is a powerful and unconstrained style, without any Frameworks and constraints. “Ice Pop” has been collecting memory balls. He marvels at how big Riley has grown, which means that what he collects are all Riley’s childhood memories, and he has no idea of ​​the fact that Riley has grown up. As Riley grows up, “Popsicle” can only hide in the deepest part of memory, collecting Riley’s childhood memories to comfort her loneliness. In the end, “Popsicle” voluntarily chose to sacrifice to move everyone, and this is also a sign of Riley growing up. When people grow up, they know that many unconstrained fantasies are unreasonable and impossible, so we are rational and realistic, and our imagination is becoming more and more scientific and social, and “popsicles” are naturally Left, withdrew from the stage of our lives.
  The things that brought us the greatest symbolic and imaginative meaning in childhood will one day have to withdraw from the stage of our life, just like people have long forgotten what their “popsicle” looks like, this lost beauty, It is also the inevitable price of our growing up. But “Bingzhu” told “Lele” when saying goodbye: take her to the moon for me, okay? But it will also be “brought back” to our memory. We will give up some things because of growing up, but some things are passed down in our memory and accompany us all our lives.