Inside Out is by far my favorite family movie. It's funny, heartbreaking, well thought out, and perfectly cast (Amy Poehler as the personification of Joy and happiness, I can't even express how perfect that is). What's especially interesting about Inside Out, is that it probably has the most simplistic plot of any Pixar movie. It's just a little girl named Riley who moves to a new town, and the movie deals with what goes on in her head, and the emotions that come with moving to a new town and leaving one's friends behind. For being so simple, Inside Out is a very deep story. And just coming off of Halloween, and reading a theory that Jar Jar Binks could be a Sith Lord (if that's true, anything is possible), I find myself wondering, with this movie taking a whimsical look into the human psyche, could Riley be a psychopath?
Is Riley a Psychopath?
"Inside every on of us, there exists a dark side. Most people rise above it, but some are consumed by it, until there is nothing left, but pure evil" -Dr Sam Loomis (Halloween)
Just as a declaimer, I am not a psychiatrist, and I am just writing this for fun, and this should not be taken seriously. Most of the evidence in this article, will be anecdotal evidence from Inside Out and other shows. I am writing this as a fan of the movie, not as an expert.
In Inside Out, we get a look into the mind of 11 year old Riley Andersen (wonder if she's related to Tomas Anderson, from the matrix? That's an article for another time) shown with colorful characters, to represent the abstract concept of thought.
Because Inside Out is about the inner workings of Riley's mind. We can analyze scenes and images from the movie, to find out how her mind works.
First lets take a look at Riley's long term memory.
Hear you see, all Riley's memories stored in these hallways. Her memories are color coded to match the emotions that correspond to those memories: Fear is purple, Sadness is blue, Disgust is green, Anger is red, and Joy is yellow.
As they have said in the film, most of her her memories are happy ones.
"I don't wanna brag, but as you can see, they're mostly happy" - Joy (Inside Out)
But it would seem that the second most prominent emotion in young Riley's head, is anger (granted even anger is still not nearly as prominent as joy). Though it may just look like anger is more common than sadness, fear, or disgust, because our brains recognize the color red more than, blue, green or purple.
But if we look at the emotions themselves, the characters. While Joy is the clear ring leader, Anger does seem to have some influence among the group.
When Joy's gone, anger seems to boss around the other emotions to some degree. Showing he has a bit more power over Riley.
Anger is the emotion that is usually associated with psychos, and crazy people.
In the movie, when Joy and sadness are taken out of the picture, the remaining emotions are Fear, Disgust, and Anger. These emotions are basically just Riley's survival instincts (Disgust keeping her from being poisoned, Fear keeping her out of danger, and Anger helping her to fight back). But it's Joy and Sadness that make her more human, Joy helping her to enjoy life, and Sadness, helping her to seek a human connection, and to feel empathy for those around her. Without Joy and Sadness, Riley is just operating on pure animal instinct.
If you ever watch Honest Trailers, they point out that Riley shows signs of schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
However, while I'm not sure about bipolar disorder, I can disprove her having schizophrenia.
While we as the audience are able to see the people inside Riley's head, she herself never actually interacts with them. Really that whole story we see playing on screen isn't actually happening, it's just a way to show what's going on inside Riley's head.
"You don't pay me, we don't even exist. were just a clever visual metaphor to personify the abstract concept of thought" - Spongebob Squarepants
However she does show signs of antisocial personality disorder. After Riley decides to run away, the control panel in her mind, tuns black and unresponsive. At this point Fear says "we can't make her feel anything".
People with antisocial personality disorder (again I am not an expert, I'm just going off of what I learned in school) are incapable of feeling empathy, or remorse, or really anything.
Just look at who is probably one of pop cultures most famous (and my favorite) serial killers, Dexter Morgan.
The show Dexter is about a serial killer named Dexter Morgan, who kills other killers, and works as a blood spatter analyst, for the police. In the show Dexter describes how he has no feelings, and needs to fake them to blend in.
Contrary to popular belief, people with this disorder have been described as being very "charming", and Dexter is actually very well liked by his friends and family (of course they don't know he's a killer)
Dexter is a character who very clearly has antisocial personality disorder. (among many other mental health problems)
But what does this have to do with Riley? Not a whole lot really, just that Dexter would be a good modal to answer the question, is Riley, secretly, a psychopath?
Of course Riley has never killed anyone (this is a family film after all). But toward the end of Inside Out, she does start to lose the ability to have emotions, and remember she's still young, and Dexter (who is our example of a true psycho) didn't really start killing people until a bit later in life. He wasn't born a psycho, he was turned onto one from experiencing a trauma at a young age (his mother being murdered). However while Dexter doesn't kill people when he's younger, he does kill animals. From a very young age Dexter very clearly shows signs of being a psychopath, signs Riley does not show.
Also Riley has not yet experienced anything like what Dexter went through.
One of the tell tale signs that a child could grow up to be a psycho is if they like to kill and torture small animals (this does NOT include hunting or eating meat). This is something we do not see Riley do, in fact we don't see her interact with any animals at all, other than a dead rat, which grosses her out.
Also this is a Pixar movie. Pixar may be edgy at times. but I think having a psycho in one of their movies, is a bit too far.
Chances are, that Riley Anderson, is just a normal girl. As I have said, I am just writing this for fun, and it shouldn't be taken seriously. It' just fun to speculate, and make theories about our favorite characters. That's why you see so many YouTube videos about how Mario is a psycho, or all the Pixar movies take place in the same universe. It's all just for fun. Yeah she probably has a dark side, but as said by Dr Loomis from Halloween (one of the best horror movies ever) everyone does.
But then again, If Jar Jar Binks could be a Sith lord, a psychotic Riley is not outside the realm of possibility.
Is Riley, secretly a psychopath?
Or maybe you're just trying to wrap your head around the fact that the guy who has made so many articles on, and is a huge fan of, really violent video games like The Last Of Us, and GTA5, and gory slasher films like Hostel and Halloween, is also a Disney/Pixar fan.
Hey, I like more than just horror and violence. Sometimes I like to watch something a little more light hearted.