The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
Psychologist Dr Shannon Curry, who was hired by the Depp legal team, took the stand on Tuesday saying that she met with Ms Heard on “two separate dates” as she conducted her evaluation – 10 and 17 December 2021. She said they spent 12 hours together and that “the result of Ms Heard’s evaluation supported two diagnoses – borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder”.
Dr Curry said Ms Heard “externalises blame” and can be “self-righteous”, “judgemental” and has anger.
She added that there’s a “desperate fear of abandonment” among those with borderline disorder and that the reaction to that is to try to keep a significant other close and this behaviour can become extreme.
“All of it is like pistons of an engine, kind of firing off and igniting one another,” Dr Curry said. “But when somebody is afraid of being abandoned, by their partner or by anybody else in their environment and they have this disorder, they’ll make desperate attacks to prevent that from happening.”
“And those desperate attempts could be physical aggression, it could be threatening, it could be harming themselves, but these are behaviours that are very extreme and very concerning to the people around them,” she added.
“Over time, the anger, the explosive anger, that they show when somebody is needing space, or when somebody is really not doing anything wrong, because a lot of times they read into things that they perceive as being a slight to them or being somebody intending to harm them that actually isn’t happening. They’ll exaggerate it, and they’ll explode,” Dr Curry said. “They’ll react in this heightened manner that is just exhausting for their partners.”
Dr Curry said those with borderline disorder can appear charming and socially sophisticated, but they can also blow up and be unaware of problems in their thinking.
They’re very concerned with appearances, can be cruel, and may struggle to admit faults, prompting a lot of issues in close relationships.
Reactions can be violent or aggressive and they can be abusive to their partner to physically stop them from leaving.
They may also use the legal system to stop their partner from leaving by threatening to file a restraining order or claiming that they have been abused.
“One of the most common tactics that they’ll use is actually physically assaulting and then getting harmed themselves, but mostly, we call this ‘administrative violence.’ Essentially this is saying that they’ll make threats using the legal system,” Dr Curry said. “So they might say that they are going to file a restraining order or claim abuse, or they might do these things to essentially try to keep their partner from leaving in the moment.”
Dr Curry said people with borderline disorder can feel slighted easily and they make no attempt at controlling their emotions. They’ll do anything to express anger.
She said borderline and histrionic personality disorder can appear as “two sides of the same coin”.
Describing histrionic personality disorder, Dr Curry said it’s a need to be the centre of attention, adding that those with the condition will need to make up stories to put themselves at the centre as either the “victim” or “princess”.
“With histrionic personality disorder, that underlying drive is to always be the centre of attention, because if you don’t have that attention on you, it feels similar to borderline personality disorder: You feel pretty empty – like you don’t have that sense of being or value,” Dr Curry told the court.
She added that attractive people may use their good looks to get attention and respect.
Dr Curry said there was evidence that Ms Heard was “grossly” exaggerating symptoms of PTSD and that there was no evidence to support that she was actually suffering from the condition.
“It is one of the most easily faked disorders,” Dr Curry said. “Most of us know what it feels like to feel anxious, and a lot of people have seen war movies and movies that depict somebody having PTSD.”
“Ms Heard did not have PTSD,” she added. “And there were also pretty significant indications that she was grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD when asked about them.”
She said Ms Heard claimed to be suffering from 19 out of 20 of the major symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“That’s not typical of even somebody with the most disabling form of PTSD,” Dr Curry said.
During cross-examination by Ms Heard’s legal team, Dr Curry said she was not board-certified and that she has never testified about violence between partners previously.
Dr Curry said she was interviewed at Mr Depp’s house by his legal team, that Mr Depp was present at the time, and that dinner and drinks were served.
Heard attorney Elaine Bredehoft questioned Dr Curry about her opinions and how they were not in line with that of a therapist who treated Ms Heard. Ms Bredehoft also asked about the conclusion drawn by another doctor that Ms Heard was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of Mr Depp.
Dr Curry said there are notes from other doctors stating that Ms Heard reported violence from Mr Depp.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then 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,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.
Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.
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