Dr. Percival Ulysses "Perry" Cox

Flynt Marshall



Dr. Cox is an Attending at Sacred Heart who later works his way up to Residency Director and eventually Chief of Medicine when Bob Kelso is forced into retirement. He is the reluctant mentor to many of the young doctors as interns and residents who is an effective, yet scary teacher. His main tool for bettering his students is fear, which is reinforced when he tries to be nicer for his newborn son and eventually loses control of his pupils. As a result, he quickly goes back to his old ways so that he can regain control and his patients won't suffer as a result of poor interns. He becomes especially involved in JD's life, who becomes his number two. Because of JD's strange nature and neediness for Cox's approval, Perry keeps him close while at the same time distancing himself by calling JD girls names and belittling him on a frequent basis.
Dr. Cox is extremely sarcastic and cynical, as well as self destructive. He has trouble asking for help but has on occasion reluctantly accepted help such as getting help from his ex-wife who was on the Board of Directors to get the Residency Director job. Every one of his personal relationships is dysfunctional and the only one that has ever worked is that of his ex-wife, Jordan, whom he lives with as if he were still married but without the title. That being said his relationship is based on insults, making each other miserable and based on love and contempt at the same time. He tries to make personal improvements after the birth of his son Jack and later his daughter Jennifer Dylan, but often falls back into old habits. Not much is known from his past but we find out from his rare interactions with his born again Christian sister, Paige, that he grew up with an abusive farther and a mother who watched silently as he was knocked around, which explains why he is so self destructive.
He is extremely self confident and believes himself almost God-like, which causes problems when he fails at something. After making a tough call to give organs to three patients die because it is later found that the donor had rabies, he drank himself into oblivion for two weeks and almost did not make it out of his despair. Although he has many character flaws such as arrogance, cynicism, general disdain for almost everyone, and being emotionally crippled, he genuinely cares for his patients and enjoys nothing more than spending time with patients and teaching; even though he would never admit to it. He always acted as a thorn in Chief of Medicine, Bob Kelso's, side. The two always clash but it is a love hate relationship because the give and take caused a balance in the hospital between following rules and breaking them to save patients.
Cox is best known for his long winded rants (including how much he hates Hugh Jackman), calling JD girls names, being very terrifying to everyone, and being the best doctor in the hospital (He won an award for being the best doctor in the city). He is an extremely avid sports fan, especially the Detroit Red Wings, and will often be seen wearing sports jerseys while not at the hospital. He is a borderline alcoholic; so much so that his son's first full sentence was "Daddy drinks a lot".

Trait and Skill Approach: Big Five

One very good approach to uncovering the inner personality of Dr. Perry Cox is the "Big Five" trait analysis. The Big Five has five categories including Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to experience. He can be evaluated on how much each category represents him, which will give a good analysis of his overall personality.
Extroversion is a trait held by energetic, enthusiastic, dominant, sociable, talkative, and outgoing people. That being said, Dr. Cox is extremely extroverted in that he talks a lot, has no problem interacting with other people and is by no means timid. He dominates a room and relishes in the ability to control what is going on. Often this is a good trait but when this trait mixes with other traits that cause conflict with others and arrogance, we get a strange view of extroversion. He is not shy or quiet and gets up in everyone's face, especially his residents while teaching them and when he bashes skulls with Bob Kelso. He will also rant to anyone, whether they are listening or not and will have no problem speaking his mind. This leads into the trait of Agreeableness.
Agreeableness is a trait that involves friendly, cooperative, trusting, and warm people. Often agreeableness goes hand and hand with extroversion, creating friendly and well spoken people. Dr. Cox is not blessed with this fortunate combination however. Dr. Cox is one of the least agreeable people one could come across. He is rude to everyone including his coworkers, students, patients, superiors, and basically anyone he meets inside or outside the hospital. He does not trust anyone and even tells Dr. Molly Clock, the attending psychiatrist that people are "Bastard coated bastards with bastard filling". Warmth is also not a characteristic he was blessed with. He once told JD that he can only give out one hug a year and he gave that to his son the week before. Dr. Cox is willing to cooperate, only in extreme emergencies, such as if a patient is coding. Besides that he will cause conflict with everyone he sees including breaking rules for patients to get under Kelso's skin and causing conflicts with colleagues. One time he passed an annoying patient back and forth with Turk just because he could. He also told Dr. Reid that if there are two treatments that both work the same way he will always go with the opposite of what she says.
Conscientiousness is characterized by caution, dependability, perseverance, organization, and responsibility. It is hard to characterize this trait for Dr. Cox because he is definitely impulsive and at times undependable, but when things go bad he is always there to make tough calls, organize the doctors and keep things from going bad. At work he is almost always conscientious and organized but at home he tends to lack most conscientious traits like organization, dependability, and tends to have a general sense of carelessness. Most of the time at home he is sitting on his couch, wearing a Red Wings jersey with scotch in hand, and watching some kind of sporting event. At work he has a fairly strong sense of conscientiousness, which he lacks in his personal life.
Neurotic people tend to be nervous, high-strung, tense, moody, worrying, and emotionally unstable. Dr. Cox is not ever nervous and rarely worries, but he is still highly neurotic. He has an extreme temper and will freak out over every little thing. One time he made an intern hold a scolding hot cup of coffee while Cox was drinking from it because he did not hand it to Cox handle side forward. Several times Dr. Cox has tried to control his anger but fails every time. He is also extremely moody and can go from happy to extremely pissed off in the blink of an eye. He is extremely high strung from his temper and in when he meets a patient who is dying from stress, Cox sees himself in that patient. Eventually he decides to balance his tenseness by being kinder at home and still being the intense terror at the hospital that we all know and love.
Openness is characterized by imagination, wit, originality, and artistic capabilities. Dr. Cox is absolutely characterized by high openness to experience, however not in the way most people see it. He is extremely creative and witty, however this is only seen when he rants about things that annoy him, belittles others close to him, or plays mind games in order to teach his students. His openness is definitely influenced by his lack of agreeableness. He can spends minutes on rants about really anything that connect all sorts of random information creatively, however they often end with how he hates Hugh Jackman and making JD emotionally hurt. He also has used various techniques to guide students like JD to becoming a better doctor and interacting with their patients, all of which make the student arrive at the answers on their own, even if Cox is pulling the strings without them seeing.
To summarize, Dr. Cox is very extroverted, neurotic, and open, while he has almost no agreeableness in his nature. He is conscientious at work but cannot apply that same talent to his dysfunctional home life.

Psychoanalytic Approach

Freud would diagnose Dr. Cox as being stuck in the Phallic Stage of Psychosexual Development. This stage is the third stage in Freud's group of developmental stage which normally happens around age four. This is the stage of development where children focus their sexual energy on their genitals and notice the differences between boys and girls. Freud believed that if someone got stuck in the Phallic Stage, as an adult they would have a fixation on vanity, narcissism, and an inability to love.
This is a good representation of Dr. Cox because he is extremely arrogant and narcissistic. He loves himself so much that he looks at his reflection in everything that can reflect his image and gets lost in his own eyes. Once Dr. Turk had to pop a balloon to regain Cox's attention because he was too busy staring at himself. Also when he wins an award for being the best doctor, he makes everyone in the hospital line up just to tell him how awesome he is. He often makes references to all his many talents and how good he is, showing just how self absorbed he really is. By the end of the show he does find the ability to love Jordan and his children, but it is still an extremely dysfunctional relationship based as much on disdain and hate as love so even though he has the ability to love, he does not at the same time.
Doctor Cox also is a good example of Freud's defense mechanism of Repression. Repression is the defense mechanism that pushes threatening or painful memories or experiences back into the subconscious, where they will not be readily available, but will still affect the thoughts and actions of that person. When His sister Paige comes to visit for his son's baptism, He seems very hostile toward Paige and her beliefs. By the end of the episode he admits that whenever he sees her it reminds him of their childhood where his dad would beat him and his mom would do nothing. Cox represses his memories of his past and when he sees his sister, those memories come to the surface and remind him of his bad memories. This is also a form of another defense mechanism as well; displacement. Displacement is the shifting of someone's unconscious fears or desire's from one target to another. He displaces his negative feelings for his father onto his sister, which is why they are not close and he is critical of her personal choices.


Dr. Cox is an extremely controversial character. He alienates everyone he meets and is so self absorbed and self destructive that it is hard to interact with him. On the other hand he cares for other people much more than he lets on and secretly loves the attention, even though he complains about it all the time. His real sense of caring for his patients is what makes him such a good doctor, despite all his many character flaws. Cox is very arrogant and many of his personal and professional choices work against, but overall he is a good guy whose sole focus in life is saving the lives of his patients; and attempts to not completely sabotage his life. Both of the approaches to personality seem to be fairly accurate to his personality. The one problem with the Freud one is that it does not explain his alcoholism in a specific defense mechanism. Besides that both styles apply fairly well.


Dr. Cox vs Dr. House. April 14 2010. http://www.sodahead.com/entertainment/dr-house-vs-dr-cox/question-782857/?link=ibaf&imgurl=http:cdimg3.crunchyroll.com/i/spire1/03262008/d/2/a/d/d2ad35670d3ac0_full.jpg&q=dr%2Bcox

Lawrence, Bill (Creator/Writer) 2001-2009.
Scrubs (Seasons 1-8). Burbank, California, USA: Doozer

Perry Cox. April 14 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Cox

Scrubs. April 14 2010. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0285403/

Friedman, Howard S., & Schustack, Miriam W. (2009).
Personality: classic theories and modern research//. Boston: Pearson Publishing.