How ‘Inside Out 2′ navigates the emotional roller coaster of adolescence

Pixar’s latest film brings teenage emotions to life with scientific accuracy

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Pixar’s highly anticipated sequel, “Inside Out 2,” takes us back into the mind of Riley, now a 13-year-old navigating the tumultuous waters of adolescence.

As Riley’s brain undergoes significant changes, four new emotions join the original cast: anxiety, envy, ennui and embarrassment. But these aren’t just cute fictional characters; they’re rooted in real neuroscience.

Dr. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley and consultant for both “Inside Out” films, explained in an interview with Vox these new emotions reflect the social and self-conscious nature of the teenage experience. The emotions teens feel shift from a focus on family to social dynamics.

“There’s a scene in the car with Riley and her two friends wondering what the other person is thinking and thinking they’re judging them. That’s just what happens when you’re a teen.”

In another interview with “Time,” Keltner explains each new emotion serves a purpose, even if it feels uncomfortable. Anxiety, for instance, helps us anticipate potential dangers and work to prevent them. Envy can motivate self-improvement, while Eembarrassment plays a crucial role in maintaining social norms. Even ennui, or boredom, has its place in fostering creativity and helping teens discover what truly matters to them.

Parents can use the film as a springboard for conversations about these complex feelings. Lisa Damour, a psychologist and another consultant on the film, emphasized to Vox the importance of accepting all emotions.

“We find ourselves in a moment in a culture where we’re pretty uneasy about any emotions that are uncomfortable, and we’re quick to pathologize negative emotions.” she said. “They did a brilliant job in this film of dealing with a range of what anxiety can be.”

As “Inside Out 2″ demonstrates, the teenage brain is a complex and fascinating place. However, all emotions, even the seemingly negative ones, serve a purpose for both parents and teens. By understanding and accepting these feelings, we can better navigate the challenges of growing up.