Alex Karev Case Study Madi Lightfoot

  • Alex Karev
  • Lives in Seattle
  • Pediatric Surgeon
  • Marital- Izzie Stevens (divorced)
  • Family- James Evan (Father), Helen Karev (Mother), Aaron Karev (Brother), Amber Karev (Sister)
Physical Development
Early Years
  • Average sized baby
  • Developed motor skills
  • Developmental Norms
  • Grew up around a drug addict and alcoholic
Teen Years
  • Found out his mother was schizophrenic
  • Hit puberty early
  • Lost his virginity at 15
Adult Years
  • Wrestled in college
  • Physical appearance- Attractive, masculine, healthy, and nicknamed Dr. Hotty

Overall from the Germinal period through the Fetal Period Alex grew into a healthy baby. Throughout his early years he developed on the path you should. He went through Maturation which is physical growth, regardless of the environment. Also in his early years we can assume that his motor skills developed because he is now a surgeon and has no problems. Lastly, we can assume that he went through milestoneswere he learned to crawl and walk known as developmental norms.

In Alex's teen years we can assume he hit puberty early. We can assume this because he gained muscle, grew in height and his voice became deeper sooner than others. This was caused by higher levels of Testosterone which is the male sex hormone responsible for height and voice change and puberty which leads to primary and secondary sex characteristics. A major event that happened during his teen years was when he found out his mom was schizophrenic. This could lead to Alex becoming schizophrenic because it is in his family history and genetics.

In his adult years we see him fully developed physically. He is called Frat boy or Dr. Hotty in the hospital. This tells us he is found attractive by most. Also, he wrestled in college. This shows us he is very masculine and healthy. It also tells us that his physical abilities peaked and as he gets older his abilities will began to decline. All of these physical developments help show that his genes were given to him by his family who were healthy and attractive. We can assume his life expectancy will match the average because his is healthy but also the stress caused by being a surgeon could decrease his life expectancy.

Cognitive Development
Early Years
  • Raised his siblings at the age 7
Teen years
  • Has a personality where he is always right, always tells you how it is, and has no filter
  • Admitted his mom to a psychiatric facility
Adult years
  • When a patient came in he would not give him drugs because he was a drug addict even though the patient was in pain
  • Head of pediatric surgery

During his early years his dad was a drug addict and alcoholic, making it hard for him to raise all the kids. Alex stepped up and started raising his siblings at the age of seven. During this age Alex was in Piaget's stages of cognitive development. He was in the stage Concrete Operational, which is around the ages 7-11. We know it is this stage because Alex had to think logically about the events in his life and about raising his siblings with little help from his father.

During his teen years his true personality began to show. In the show they talk about how he was and how he has changed in many ways. During these years Alex had the personality of a rude person with no filter who did not care about others feelings. Alex was always right and only cared about himself. For example, he would only take the interesting cases in the hospital. Also, he would always tell the truth no matter how brutal it is. This was caused by the return of Egocentric during his teenage years. Being Egocentric is when you only see your own point of view and in this case Alex is Egocentric because he doesn't listen to anyone else. In his teen years he was also in the Concrete Operational because he had to make the lockable decision to admit his mother into a psychiatric facility.

At one point in his adult years he was in the hospital and a patient came in. The patient was clearly a drug addict and Alex knew it. Alex refused to give the patient any drugs even though the patient was in real pain. This cognitive development was caused by a schema. A schema is a specific mental representation a personal develops from our experiences. The schema that Alex created was from his experience with his dad. This led to assimilation because he sees all drug addicts in the same way and that is that they will do anything for drugs. Also during his adult years he became a surgeon which leads to a new stage in Piaget's stages of cognitive development. This stage is Formal Operational because he uses abstract reasoning everyday to perform surgery.

Social Development
Early years
  • Mother is schizophrenic
  • Father is a drug addict and alcoholic
  • Abused by his father
  • Went to juvenile detention for theft
  • Foster care; 17 homes in 5 years
Teen years
  • Admitted his mom into a psychiatric facility
  • Attended college
  • Went to medical school to be some a surgeon
Adult years
  • Multiple complicated relationships with significant others and friends
  • Divorced
  • Involved in fights that out the victims in the hospital
Kohlberg's Theory


  • Stage 1- Punishment and Obedience: This is when what is good helps you avoid punishment. In Alex's case he was around the early ages of his life when he was in this stage. Alex would listen and do whatever his dad asked to avoid being abused.
  • Stage 2- Instrumental Exchange: This is when what is good satisfies a persons needs. In Alex's case he was in his teens during this stage. His mother is schizophrenic so he took the initiative to do what his mother needs and admit her to a psychiatric facility.


  • Stage 3- Interpersonal Conformity: This is when you do things to win approval. Normally you are in this stage around the age of 13 years old, in Alex's case he was a few years older. He was in the stage when he decided to go to medical school and become a surgeon. He did this to win the approval of the people around him and himself because nobody believed he could make it through medical school and become a surgeon.


  • Stage 5- Socail Contract and Prior Rights: This is the obedience to accepted laws based on personal values. Alex was at the age of 11 when he was in this stage. Alex chose to go steal food to make sure his family was fed every night then took responsibility for theft and did his time in juvenile detention. This shows that he did what he thought he should but still accepted what he did was against the law.
  • Stage 6- Universal Morals: This is decisions based on moral beliefs without concern for laws. Alex was in his adult years when he was in this stage. Alex walked into what he thought was another resident ready to take advantage of his girlfriend while she was drunk and beat him until he was almost dead but only hospitalized. He wasn't thinking about the fact that he would go to jail because the resident was doing nothing wrong, but he could only think about protecting Jo.
Breakdown (Continued)
Erickson' Theory

Basic Trust vs Mistrust- Alex established mistrust during his infancy. This is because his dad and mom were unfit to parent and he was always neglected because of it. This will make it hard to Alex to trust later in life because his parents were never around for him to get close too and he went from foster home to foster home so he never grew any real relationships.

Autonomy vs Shame- I believe Alex will be a victim of shame because he was abused by his father and sent to foster homes constantly. These events in his early childhood will make him feel shame because I assume he always felt like he was doing something wrong because he was abused or shipped away constantly. When things like that continually happen and nobody can give you a reason you may think it's you.

Initiative vs Guilt- Alex was a victim of guilt during his childhood. I believe this is also caused by the abuse his father gave him. He is a guilt victim because he always feels like he did something wrong due to the fact that his parents were neglectful and showed no love for him.

Identity vs Confusion- Although Alex had a rough childhood I believe by the time he was a teenager he began to find himself. He knew that he wanted to go to college and that he wanted to go to medical school to be a surgeon. He dreamed of becoming a plastic surgeon and later he did become a surgeon but in pediatrics. This shows identity because Alex wasn't confused about who he was or what he wanted to do, but instead he knew exactly who he was.

Intimacy vs Isolation- I believe Alex is Intimate because he has multiple relationships in the show. He was married and had many other relationships along the way. Although, most of his relationships ended badly he never stopped trying to have a relationship that would last and he could be in for the rest of his life. I think that the mistrust in the earlier stage may of been part of the problem in some of his relationships because he found it hard to trust them or get close to them because he was never close with anyone.

Generativity vs Stagnation- Alex is very caring toward his significant others, friends, and all his patients. You have to be caring to work in pediatrics. He is always there for his friends when they need someone and he will do anything to protect his girlfriend and make her happy. It would be hard to work with infants and children if you were cold hearted and not caring in some way.

Integrity vs Despair- It is hard to assume which one Alex may feel in the future. It is possible he will feel integrity because of all his accomplishments and what he has over come, but he could also feel despair. Despair could be brought on because of reminders of his early childhood or even how he acted toward some people in his teenage and young adult ages.

Breakdown (Continued)
Baumrinds Parenting Styles

Alex Karev is a victim of Neglectful parenting. His parents were rarely involved in his life. His dad was a drug addict and alcoholic so he was around but not really parenting Alex in the right mind. His mother was around but it wasn't until later they found out that she is schizophrenic which shows why Alex was neglected. We know he was neglected because his parents were around yet he went through 17 foster homes in 5 years. This shows his parents were not in the right mind to take care of Alex and that he didn't have parents who were activity involved in his life. Lastly, when his father was around he would abuse Alex without even a thought that it was his child he was hurting, which shows how neglected Alex was.

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