Behavioral Science · Movie Observations

Cobb from Inception

We don’t handle most of the pressing issues of our lives in a healthy manner. Psychological health is not given the importance it should be given in most of the third world countries like India. We often brush it off when something traumatic happens with a person and say. ‘Meh! he will get over it’. We tend to forget that tiny details and incidents in a child’s upbringing can have lasting effects on the child. We do not recognize the fact that every single experience shapes us a person for good and bad. Instead we start looking at people in a polarized fashion we either glorify them or beat them down as villains.

What do you think is the reason?

[Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen Inception yet and are planning to, don’t read this any further there are major spoilers ahead]

I will take a small case-study to take a shot at driving home a point that even I myself am a little unclear about. In the movie Inception Cobb is a person who is pretty good at what he does, we believe in his capability as he establishes it during the Saito deception (prologue). When Mal comes to mess everything up for Cobb we focus on the fact that Cobb was able to accomplish his mission despite Mal. But we fail to acknowledge that Mal – a fictional element in Cobb’s mind is trying to sabotage him.

Cobb – extremely paranoid about reality

In other words, while Cobb is able he is also self-destructive due to unresolved issues. Guilt is his issue in the movie, he could not accept the fact that this tiny idea he planted inside Mal led to her death. He tries to fill this void left in behind by his late wife through keeping her alive in his mind and his memories. It doesn’t work well for him because his Guilt has resulted in creating a shadow of his wife who does not believe in reality anymore. A shadow that is dead set on sabotaging Cobb to kill him.

While as a third person through the movie I can observe how badly damaged and self-sabotaging Cobb has become the characters around him: his team, his father and his accomplice Arthur do not see it themselves. Except for Ariadne who happens to witness Mal.

I think this is the reason for most of us not acknowledging psychological and behavioral issues. We assume we know a person and attribute certain strengths to him and expect him to deliver continuously. But when the same person faces issues we are often in the blind and still trust him with the same levels of confidence. It is often of critical importance to know what your team member is going through and accommodate him accordingly.

A person at his lowest craves for some attention and a shoulder to cry, an immediate support environment is created by the near and dear. But this environment often does not long enough (because we are impatient) until the healing process is complete. There is a certain sense of shame attached to share his feelings now that the environment is gone (our generation thinks its so uncool to share feelings, but why? We are mad suckers for ‘the lone wolf gun slinging act‘). There are chances of developing very unhealthy tendencies from this point like addiction, low self-esteem etc.

The deaths, suffering and war in the history of our civilization has obscured the greatest strength of humanity – being there for each other. We are capable of fixing our own problems and living independently but we need each other during our worst possible times just to give a hug, listen out and feel some empathy. I do not think increasing fast paced lonely lifestyles and dependence on social media is a co-incidence.

So the next time remember the greatest help you can do to yourself and to others is:

‘lend a shoulder and be a good listener when someone needs it;

don’t shy away from sharing your pain when you need it’



4 thoughts on “Cobb from Inception

  1. First, Inception is my second favorite movie! (Behind Life is Beautiful). What I loved most about the movie is how it stirs up our thoughts, deep thoughts, and you brought up an insightful point! We do need to listen and observe the ones we love a little more closely when we notice a change. Whether it’s a negative or positive change, we need each other’s support to overcome and be uplifted. Great post!! Seeing you’re a fan of the movie, how many times have you seen it?
    I can say it’s been 5 times for me! Lol


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