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A Deeper Look at "Inside Out" ~ The Movie


Wellness insights from Acupuncture Center of NJ, providing holistic complementary mind-body-heart-healing since 1986, in Morristown, NJ!

A Deeper Look at "Inside Out" ~ The Movie

Peter Kadar

How Traditional Chinese Five Element Philosophy, Brain Science and the Magic of Pixar is showing at a theater near you! [youtube]

After recently seeing the wonderfully new animated film “Inside Out” by Disney's Pixar Studios, and it got me thinking of how Traditional Chinese Medicine views the mechanisms of consciousness. The movie is about an 11 year old girl, Riley, who has moved from her happy home in Minnesota to a new life in the complex, harsher city of San Francisco. Intense feelings, animated by the characters Joy, Sadness, Anger. Fear and Disgust are reacting to outside stimuli and competing for dominance within the young girl’s consciousness. Simultaneously, Riley is growing out of childhood and her parent’s love and protection into the confusing world of preadolescence, a time when she is no longer comforted and satisfied with simple emotions. The movie expertly and very entertainingly shows the wild swings in temperament and behavior that Riley experiences and the tumult in her consciousness as Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust alternately support and sabotage her efforts to control her emotions and construct her reality.


Chinese Medicine expresses one’s emotional life through the phenomenon called “wu xing”, often translated as the Five Elements or Five Phases. These are almost identical to the characters in “Inside Out”: Joy, Sadness or Grief, Anger, Fear and as the closest to Disgust; Worry or Over-thinking. These correspond to the Elements Fire, Metal, Wood, Water and Earth. Every organ, acupuncture meridian and physiological function in our body is connected to these Elements and their emotions.

5_elements_bannerAt ACNJ,  we utilize Five Element acupuncture to strengthen, move, drain and harmonize the negative impact that occurs when any one of these emotions is dominant, and suppresses the natural expression of the other emotions or Elements (and their corresponding virtue). For instance, if a patient is unable to find relief or harmony from lingering sadness or grief, I will stimulate acupuncture points on the Metal/Lung and Large Intestine channels to stabilize their ability to feel the energy of sadness and move on. The lessons of “Inside Out” and the therapeutic intent of Five Element acupuncture is very much the same: we live fully when our emotions are fully expressed and balanced.

5 elementsContemporary brain science, neurology and psychology and behavioral science have extraordinary technologies such as brain imaging and hormone and enzyme markers to study brain chemistry and consciousness. The ancient Chinese physicians who devised Five Element philosophy and created a sublime and sophisticated understanding of the natural flow of our thoughts, feelings, and expressions were on the right track thousands of years ago. I wonder what they would have thought of “Inside Out”, the movie!

I encourage you and our patients at the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in Morristown, to go out and experience this emotional film.

SPpeterDr. Peter Kadar L.Ac. D.O.M.

Contact Peter for an appointment at 973-984-2800

Visit ACNJ at:

40 Franklin St., Morristown, NJ 07960