Dr. Gregory House



Gregory House is the fictional antihero of the self-titled FOX drama “House M.D.” He grew up a “military brat” due to his father, John House, serving as a Marine Corps pilot and moved between bases during his childhood. House loved his mother and hated his father, but in his adult life has avoided both. He was abused by his father in his childhood, and because of this believed that John was not his actual father. This proves true based on DNA testing of a family friend post-mortem, though House has suspected this man’s paternity long before proof. (Gregory House)
House went to medical school at Johns Hopkins Medical School, but was caught cheating by another student and denied re-entry after an appeal process. He finished medical school at the University of Michigan where he met Lisa Cuddy, his future employer and love interest. During a medical conference in New Orleans he first met his future best friend Dr. James Wilson. (Gregory House)

House suffers from serious pain in his thigh that began 10 years prior to the start of the series, and this results in him taking Vicodin to relieve the pain. This eventually turns into an addiction to Vicodin that is a large part of his character on the show. (Gregory House)

Despite all the flaws, House, a board-certified diagnostician with a specialty in nephrology and infectious diseases, is a genius when it comes to solving medical cases. He is described as having a Rubik’s Complex, which is a need to solve things such as puzzles or medical cases. (Gregory House)


The Psychoanalytic approach to psychology is based in trying to understand the unconscious processes of the mind. The approach is strongly based off of the writings of Sigmund Freud. Freud emphasized the three parts of the unconscious mind-- the Id, which controlled primitive drives, the Ego, which is the self that balances the Id and Superego, and the Superego, which has the internalized social norms (Huntington 2011). Freud also wrote about psychosexual development, in which there is progress in stages as libido is redirected to different parts of the body. There are 5 stages: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital (Huntington 2011). House is most likely stuck in the phallic stage, which is the stage in which children come to know of their genitals and sexual differences and get pleasure from masturbating, which is socially unacceptable and sometimes privately forbidden by parents. People in the phallic stage are vain, narcissistic, and are unable to love and House displays all these characteristics.

Children also can have the Oedipus complex, which is termed after a Greek legend, in which Oedipus king of Thebes, unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother (Friedman, 2009, pg72). House may be suffering from the Oedipus complex because of his love for his mother and his hatred for his father. And due to the abuse suffered from John House, his “father”, house may have developed defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms are processes that distort the reality to protect the ego (Friedman, 2009, pg77). He may be repressing traumatic memories of his father’s abuse which could still be making him feel threatened thus he overcompensates and acts overconfident and secure in order to put up a front. House also suffers from denial, a defense mechanism in which one refuses to acknowledge anxiety provoking stimuli, due to his repeated claiming that he isn’t addicted to Vicodin (“I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem” (Shore, 2004-2011).)
House also suffers from frequent use of Projection, a defense mechanism in which anxiety-arousing impulses are externalized by placing them onto others. House throughout the series claims that “everybody lies” and assumes that everyone is always lying unless they have a specific reason not to. This could be due to him constantly having to lie his whole life in order to get by (for example, lying to John House in order to not get in trouble and cheating on his exam at Johns Hopkins). This could result in him assuming that everyone always lies because he does so constantly. House lies most about personal things that normally people share in order to get close to each other and this could be the subconscious effect of the small child in House being afraid of getting hurt if he opens himself up to someone.

Trait/Skill Perspective

The trait approach was initially analyzed by Hippocrates who described human temperament in terms of bodily humors, sanguine (blood), melancholic (black bile), choleric (yellow bile), and phlegmatic (phlegm). House would definitely fall under the category of choleric, angry and irritable, because he can’t stand most people and is extremely sarcastic most of the time when he has to deal with people he doesn’t want to deal with.

More recently the Big Five personality traits have been developed through research and analysis as an approach to personality. The five traits are Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness (Friedman, 2009, pg 267). House would score high on extroversion because he is not shy about acting dominant over his co-workers or his patients. While he isn’t sociable he is quite talkative and energetic. House would be very low in agreeableness he is very irritable and untrusting of everyone. He places his self-interest above others, is un-interested in other’s well being (except patients), and often insults people. His conscientiousness is very low as well because he is impulsive, disorderly, and undependable. He is relatively low in neuroticism despite not being the most stable person; he is consistently able to be calm when he faces stress. He also is high in openness due to his wild imagination, wittiness, originality in ideas and his artistic ability; he can play piano quite well and uses this to help solve a case. While he can be shallow and sexist at times he is over all very open to ideas and is constantly trying to solve problems and acquire new knowledge.


Analyzing Gregory House psychoanalytically and using traits gets at the basis of his true “self” which is what the goal in personality is. House is an independent individual with a strong representation of his id in his ego; his isn’t one to care for social protocol. As described by the creator of the series "[House] enjoys pursuing the truth, and he knows we all see the world through our own lenses. He's constantly trying to strip himself of those biases, to get a clean, objective view of things." House constantly demonstrates his extroversion and openness due to his loud powerful character that is searching for the truth in all things he views.

Despite having his personality “flaws” house is a brilliant character that gives the view a chance to see the world through his eyes as he attempts to solve medical cases that puzzle most other doctors. House also has his own construction of the world that is built off of defense mechanisms that he developed since his childhood. He has a view about how the world works and using a lot of psychological research in analyzing people along with his own observations. He often chooses to not take people at their word but instead notice all the other cues that they provide to him to analyze the individual.

House remains one of the best shows on television and in TV guide’s 100 greatest characters house was selected as the greatest of all time.


Friedman, H. S. & Schustack, M. W. (2009). Personality: Classic theories and modern research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Dr. Gregory House character biography on imdb.com (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0015927/bio
Huntington, A. (2011). Chapter 3: Psychoanalytic Aspects of Personality. Retrieved from http://lms.uconn.edu/webct/
Gregory House. (2011). Retreived April 20, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_House