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Psychiatrist who testified for Amber Heard pens op-ed about ‘horrific backlash’

Dr David Spiegel wishes Johnny Depp had tempered his fans’ behaviour and ‘re-directed their emotions’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 03 June 2022 20:16 BST
Psychiatrist claims Depp’s behaviour is consistent with ‘intimate partner violence’
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Dr David Spiegel, a psychiatrist called to testify in court by Amber Heard at her defamation trial, has written about the “horrific backlash” he experienced after appearing in the witness box.

Having testified that Johnny Depp has exhibited behaviours that are “consistent” with someone who is a “perpetrator of intimate partner violence”, Dr Spiegel also acknowledged in cross-examination that he had not met the actor, but had reviewed court documents and depositions to reach his conclusions.

He said that Mr Depp showed many signs of impairment from excessive use of drugs and alcohol, pointing to his use of an earpiece for lines during filming and admitting that he did a movie “entirely wasted”.

Fans of the actor were quick to express their fury at Dr Spiegel and he has now recounted his experience in Newsweek in an op-ed titled: “I Testified in the Heard vs. Depp Trial. The Backlash Has Been Horrific.”

As a psychiatrist with 30 years of experience, he has a history of providing medical malpractice expert witness testimony but has never done so in such a high-profile trial.

Dr Spiegel spent three years on the Depp v Heard case and had initially assumed it would be a closed trial and not a televised event. He was unprepared for the reaction from the public and was shocked by the volume and personal nature of the attacks, noting it was “obviously a little hurtful”.

“I deal with people for a living, so I tried to understand where people were coming from. It’s what a psychiatrist does. But the comments below the YouTube videos of me have been vile. And, some people have access to my work email, so I’ve gotten four or five charming editorials about myself.”

His WebMD page was also bombarded with hundreds of fake reviews when there had only been a handful before his testimony.

Feeling as if he had “emotional concussion” from feedback that left him “numb and dazed”, he took an early vacation and was fortunate enough to have support from family, colleagues, and even patients.

“During my career, I have dealt with people who are not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and I’ve dealt with people who are psychotic and have threatened to kill me, and it has never fazed me one iota, but this did. You start realising that it really just takes one person who is not seeing things right.”

Noting the lack of any reaction from those at the centre of the trial, Dr Spiegel says Ms Heard has not said anything about the backlash, but also notes she is the “most vulnerable person” in the aftermath.

Regarding Mr Depp, he says he would have liked to have seen him “get ahead of this and to have said [to his supporters], ‘Listen, I understand you are upset, but there are ways to express how to be upset’.”

He adds: “The fact that he hasn’t probably says potential volumes about him.”

Dr Spiegel says Mr Depp could have tempered fan behaviour and “re-directed their emotions”.

“While I still feel this intervention would be welcomed, his fans may be ‘disarmed’ by the verdict in his favour,” he says, but adds that since the verdict, he has received a piece of derogatory mail at work and a rude phone call taken by his staff.

Dr Spiegel says that while his job is secure he still fears that there might be some impact on him professionally from the “whole circus around the trial”.

As for the verdict, he expresses disappointment for Ms Heard whom he felt should have received more support than she did. He wishes her “emotional healing” at a time when she is seen as a “villainess”.

Would he do it again? Dr Spiegel says he is “60/40 leaning towards ‘no’”.

“Never in my life have I been the target of such voluminous amounts of hate, ever,” he says. “I will process the emotion, but it will always be there; the knowledge that I was on the receiving end of such venom.”

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