A clinical psychologist hired to review Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s turbulent relationship told jurors the actress suffers from two personality disorders and ‘grossly exaggerated’ her PTSD after the couple’s bitter split.
Depp’s legal team called expert witness Dr. Shannon Curry to the stand on Tuesday as the Hollywood star’s highly publicized defamation trial against his ex-wife entered its ninth day.
The clinical and forensic psychologist told the court she concluded Heard had traits consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) – two conditions found in people with patterns of emotional instability and attention-seeking behavior.
Dr. Curry testified that she was initially hired early last year to review files in the legal battle between the two feuding exes and identify behavior in their relationship that may be consistent with ‘intimate partner violence’.
The psychology expert, however, revealed her role would shift several months later in October, when she was asked to provide a psychological evaluation of Heard, 36.
‘The results of Ms. Heard’s evaluation supported two diagnoses: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD),’ Curry told the court.
Clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Shannon Curry (left) described her medical evaluation Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship as she took the stand in the defamation trial Tuesday
The psychology expert revealed she was asked to conduct an evaluation of Heard, who she concluded suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder
She concluded that Heard ‘grossly exaggerated’ her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after her relationship with Depp and said that in the actress’s eyes, the actor went from being ‘idealized to the dumpster.’
Dr. Curry noted that Heard’s BPD was marked by an ‘underlying terror of abandonment’ and somebody with the condition tends to make ‘desperate attempts’ to stop it from happening.
These could be ‘very extreme behaviors’, she said.
Curry added that as a result of these disorders, somebody like Heard could appear charming at the start of a friendship or relationship but could then turn dark easily.
‘You’ll see relationships start very intensely, extremely close,’ she said.
‘This might be their perfect soulmate and initially everything seems great but reality sets in, people are not perfect.
‘Most of us accept people as a whole, [but] with a person with BPD, things are in these extremes, that person goes from being idealized to dumpster, they are totally devalued, they’re the worst….then there will be a repair because the person with this disorder does feel remorse.’
Somebody with BPD is usually ‘very, very interested in looks and utilizes their looks to get the respect they’re looking for,’ she added.
Heard, who wore a cream-colored blazer and styled her hair in a crown braid, sat quietly alongside her legal team and at times was seen jotting down notes as the psychologist testified.
She did not look up as the doctor confirmed her diagnoses but at one point appeared visibly uncomfortable as the expert described the characteristics of such disorders.
According to her diagnosis, Heard was a ‘sophisticated’ and ‘calculated’ case of BPD, somebody who would ‘tend to hit you where it hurts a bit more’ and be ‘very, very destructive.’
Dr. Curry also explained that people with BPD have identity issues and tend to change their interests and values constantly.
Depp is suing his ex-wife (both pictured in court Tuesday) for $50million over a piece she wrote in the Washington Post that implied he abused her during their marriage
The court heard the psychologist diagnosed Heard with two personality disorders found in people with patterns of emotional instability and attention-seeking behavior
The expert’s testimony will help bolster Depp’s claims that his ex-wife falsely accused him of physically and sexually abusing her in a Washington Post op-ed in 2018, and that Heard was allegedly the real abuser
What is Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)?
Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a ‘dramatic’ personality disorder.
People with HPD have an overwhelming desire for attention and often exhibit dramatic behavior in order to be noticed.
They also might have rapid-shifting emotions, be excessively sensitive to criticism, and have difficulty maintaining relationships.
People with HPD tend to be charming and have good social skills but are said to use these traits to manipulate others and steal the spotlight.
HPD is more common in women than men.
Potential causes include:
- Lack of criticism or punishment as a child
- positive reinforcement for specific behavior
- Unpredictable attention given to a child by a parent
What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – also known as Emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) – is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others.
It’s the most commonly recognized personality disorder.
In general, someone with a personality disorder will differ significantly from an average person in terms of how he or she thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others.
People with BPD are often uncertain about their identity and therefore tend to change interests and values rapidly.
They also tend to view things in extremes and are known to change their feelings towards people quickly.
Risk factors for BPD include:
- Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
- Disrupted family life
- Poor communication in the family
- Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
‘They take on the personality of the people they want to be around. The way they dress. Interest. The way they talk,’ she told the court.
Heard was speculated to have displayed such behavior last week, when social media users pointed out that the actress seemed to be copying Depp’s courtroom outfits and hairstyles.
Users claimed Heard had been purposely wearing ensembles that look similar to ones that Depp previously wore during the trial, in an attempt to ‘play mind games’ on him.
Dr. Curry went to explained the hallmarks of HPD, which included an ‘overly dramatic presentation’ and ‘quick shifts between emotions’ such as going from very animated to sad.
Those with HPD had a ‘hypersensitivity to being slighted’ and could melt down in the middle of a restaurant if somebody showed up two minutes later, she said.
‘They will make a lot of accusations, reactivity, a lot of escalation, they can react aggressively, physically prevent partners from trying to leave.
‘Often they will be abusive to their partners, sometimes physically restrain them.’
Somebody such as Heard lived a life marked by ‘drama and shallowness’.
The underlying drive was to ‘always be the center of attention’ and without it a person with HPD would feel ‘pretty empty.’
While conducting her evaluation, Curry explained she reviewed various case materials including Heard’s medical records, mental health treatment records, court exhibits, witness statements, as well as audio and video recordings.
She also met with the Aquaman actress for several hours over the course of two separate dates in December 2021 before finally coming to a diagnosis.
Amber Heard has been accused of copying Johnny Depp’s courtroom outfits, as viewers spot multiple similarities between their ensembles. Depp is pictured at court on April 13 (left), while Heard is pictured at court on April 14 (right)
On the first day of the trial – on April 11 – Depp was seen wearing a Gucci tie, which had a bumblebee on it (left). And two days later – on April 13 – Heard sported a very similar tie, which also had a bee pin on it (right)
People have also pointed out that Depp donned a gray suit for the first day of the trial on April 11 (left), and Heard was then seen wearing a pants and shirt combo of the same color to the courthouse on April 12 (right)
Then, on April 18, Depp showed up to court with his long hair pulled back into a ponytail (left). The next day, on April 19, Heard had her long locks styled in a similar way (right) – and many people thought it was not a coincidence
Dr. Curry revealed she was not asked to provide the same evaluation for Depp.
The court heard two instances from Heard’s medical notes which illustrated her condition.
Firstly she admitted she had cut her arm in the past which was a ‘typical thing’ that somebody with BPD does.
Heard’s former friend Rocky Pennington told how they were once out shopping for Thanksgiving items and Heard struck her face ‘out of the blue’.
Dr. Curry said that could happen if Heard decided Pennington wasn’t meeting her ‘needs’ and lashed out.
When asked whether or not Heard had PTSD as a result of her relationship with Depp, Dr. Curry said no.
In fact Heard was ‘grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD’ and claimed to have 19 out of a list of 20 conditions.
She testified that according to one test Heard was in the 98th percentile for exaggerating her PTSD which indicated she had ‘engaged in extreme levels of exaggeration.’
Dr. Curry said that was ‘not typical even of somebody with the most disabling form of PTSD’ and that they dialed the number of issues down to three.
They were sleep disturbance, an extended feeling of being startled and recurring nightmares that Heard was being ‘held down’.
But even then there was evidence these issues were in place before Heard and Depp got together, Dr. Curry said.
Heard said that when she first moved to Los Angeles she suffered from ‘blanket anxiety and depression’, the jury heard.
Twitter users on Monday noticed how Heard’s facial expressions seemed to change quickly as she tries to defend herself against ex-husband Johnny Depp’s defamation claim
At one point in the ongoing trial in Fairfax, Virginia, she could be seen almost smirking
Summing up her interactions with Heard, Dr. Curry said she was ‘very likable’ but her testing showed she ‘approached it in a manner that very clearly minimized any psychological dysfunction but presented herself as free of problems and did so in a way that was not obvious’.
The expert’s testimony is set to help bolster Depp’s claims that his ex-wife falsely accused him of physically and sexually abusing her in a Washington Post op-ed in 2018, and that Heard was allegedly the real abuser.
Heard on the other hand has claimed Depp is smearing her by accusing her of lying in the article – and is countersuing for $100 million.
Under cross examination, Dr. Curry admitted that she thought Depp was a good actor and that she had enjoyed a four-hour dinner with him and his lawyers before being hired.
Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft questioned Curry’s decision to sit down for a ‘three-to four-hour dinner’ with Depp and his legal team at his home before taking the case.
‘Don’t you think that’s a little odd you’re getting interviewed by Mr. Depp to decide if you’ll testify adversely against Amber Heard?’ Bredehoft asked.
Dr. Curry insisted that she was interviewed by Depp’s legal team.
Bredehort said: ‘You’d seen a number of his TV and movie roles and you thought he (Depp) was a good actor?’
Dr. Curry said: ‘Yes’.
The court heard that Dr. Curry has never since had dinner with a client before being hired as an expert witness.
Bredehoft said: ‘You justified it was OK because it was a high profile case?’
Dr. Curry said: ‘I sought consultation about it.
‘This is a very visible case, it’s been going on for a very long time and I knew there was a need to interview me and make an informed decision about my qualifications.’
The trial has sparked much intrigue online, as revelations about the abuse Depp allegedly suffered at the hands of Heard come to light, with some Twitter users noticing that the actress’s quick-changing and ‘unnatural’ facial expressions during her ex-husband’s testimony
While taking the stand in the trial in Fairfax, Virginia, Depp has claimed over the past week that Heard abused him, and recounted how she once allegedly became angry at him for taking off his own boots instead of allowing her to do it, and how she allegedly severed one of his fingers.
Depp told jurors how he and Heard had a routine in which she would take off his boots and give him a glass of wine when he returned from work – and one time when he broke that routine by taking off his own boots, she became irate.
One Twitter user remarked that Heard’s facial expressions ‘frighten me,’ accusing the actress of being a psychopath
Throughout the trial, Heard could be seen talking to her lawyers, as her face expression seems to change – at one point seemingly smirking after apparently looking afraid.
Twitter user Trish Lee wrote that those ‘facial expressions frighten me,’ calling the Aquaman actress a ‘psychopath,’ while Hasan Ibn Munawara Bint Sufiya said her ‘facial expressions, attitude, her whole demeanor during this trial is like the mean girls in high school.
‘She’s such an abusive, vile, narcissistic person,’ he said. ‘Everything she accused Johnny of doing was actually what she did to him.’
Lisa, meanwhile, wrote that she ‘can’t wait for all the clips of Amber Heard’s reactions to sustained objections and blatant disconnect between her facial expressions,’ and Kate said: ‘The way Amber Heard changed her facial expressions so quickly during the trial is actually terrifying.’
Others also took aim at her acting skills for the odd expressions.
Lewis Johnston, for example, wrote: ‘They say that Amber Heard has NO personality and with these facial expressions you can see why,’ while another user claimed she was acting like a non-player character in a video game.
‘She’s full on making facial expressions like she’s a Sims character,’ he wrote, as another accused her of ‘trying to come off as the victim in her facial expressions.’
The trial is expected to last another five to six weeks, with celebrities like Paul Bettany and James Franco set to testify.
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s caustic relationship
February 3, 2015
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard marry in a private civil ceremony at their LA home, four years after they met as co-stars on the set of The Rum Diary. The couple celebrate with a lavish reception on an idyllic private island in the Bahamas that Depp bought in 2004 for $3.6 million.
April 21, 2015
Heard breaches Australia’s biosecurity laws when she and Depp fail to declare their two Yorkshire terriers when they arrive Down Under on a private jet for the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Heard admits falsifying quarantine documents and is placed on a $1,000 one-month good behavior bond.
May 23, 2016
Heard files for divorce after 15 months of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Four days later a judge issues a temporary restraining order against Depp over domestic violence allegations. Pictures of Heard’s alleged injuries hit the tabloids but the LAPD finds no evidence of a crime.
August 16, 2016
Depp and Heard reach a $7 million divorce settlement which the actress promises to give to charity. Their marriage was ‘intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,’ the former lovers say in a statement. ‘There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm’.
December 18, 2018
The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Heard, an ambassador for women’s rights at for the American Civil Liberties Union, urging support for women who suffer domestic violence. ‘Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,’ reads the headline.
March 1, 2019
Despite not being named in the article, Depp files a $50 million defamation suit in Fairfax Circuit Court, Virginia saying it implied he was an abuser and got him fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Depp dismisses Heard’s abuse allegations as a ‘hoax’ and claims he was actually the victim of her violence.
August 10, 2020
Heard countersues for $100 million, claiming vengeful Depp and his lawyer Adam Waldman targeted her with a vicious smear campaign, using media allies and internet trolls to amplify false stories about her and derail her acting career.
November 1, 2020
Depp faces an uphill battle to save his reputation after he loses a libel battle with a British tabloid that labeled him a ‘wife beater’. A judge in London’s rules that The Sun’s 2018 article was ‘substantially true’ and that the father-of-two had attacked Heard a dozen times, causing her to fear for her life on three occasions.
April 11, 2022
After lengthy delays due to the Covid pandemic, the former flames finally lock horns in Fairfax County, Virginia where the Washington Post servers that published the disputed op-ed are based. The trial is expected to last six to seven weeks and celebrities tipped to give evidence include James Franco, Paul Bettany and Ellen Barkin.