Psychologist hired by Johnny Depp discredits Amber Heard’s PTSD diagnosis saying symptoms are ‘frequently feigned’

‘I would say it can’t be triggered if PTSD isn’t present,’ Dr Shannon Curry told the court, regarding Heard’s diagnosis

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 25 May 2022 16:03 BST
Amber Heard’s PTSD diagnosis was refuted in court by Dr Shannon Curry on Wednesday (25 May)
Amber Heard’s PTSD diagnosis was refuted in court by Dr Shannon Curry on Wednesday (25 May) (YouTube/Law&Crime Network)

The psychologist hired by Johnny Depp’s legal team, Dr Shannon Curry, has returned to the stand to refute Amber Heard’s diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Testifying for Amber Heard’s defence on 3 May, clinical psychologist Dr Dawn Hughes said that the actress does suffer from PTSD stemming from domestic violence.

“I diagnosed Ms Heard with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder… and the cause was the intimate partner violence by Mr Depp,” Dr Hughes said at the time.

On Wednesday, Dr Curry was called to the stand by Mr Depp’s team and said her testimony “will be used to rebut” Dr Hughes’ evidence in the multi-million dollar defamation trial brought by Mr Depp against ex-wife Ms Heard.

“Generally speaking, there are three main categories I’d like to talk about today,” Dr Curry began. “The first is that Dr Hughes misrepresented the tests and the results she utilised in the evaluations. She misrepresented my testing and the results I obtained in my evaluation. And she provided testimony in a manner that presented her own opinions and the self-report of Ms Heard as facts.”

Dr Curry told the court that Dr Hughes “used eight checklists” that are “not appropriate for forensic settings” – such as civil suits – because they are “easily exploited”.

One of those checklists, Dr Curry continued, was the PTSD checklist or PCL-5 which she described as a “screening instrument only”.

“it contains every single symptom of PTSD,” she told the court adding, “There’s a secondary danger here too when you think about it, given that PTSD is the most frequently feigned and claimed diagnosis in civil court.”

“If you’re handing someone a checklist that lists every symptom of PTSD, you’re essentially teaching them all the little nuances that we’re looking for to give that diagnosis.

“She gave that to Ms Heard, Ms Heard endorsed most of the items [on the list] and DR Hughes diagnosed her with PTSD, and substantiated that opinion by Ms Heard’s checking those items on the PCL,” Dr Curry testified on 25 May.

When asked whether she believes Dr Hughes testimony that Ms Heard’s PTSD was “triggered”, she replied: “I would say it can’t be triggered if PTSD isn’t present.”

Dr Shannon Curry (R) appeared in court as Dr Dawn Hughes (L) testified earlier this month
Dr Shannon Curry (R) appeared in court as Dr Dawn Hughes (L) testified earlier this month (Screenshots / Court video feed)

During her earlier testimony, Dr Curry 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 told the court at the time.

Ms Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft began cross-examination by reminding the court that Dr Curry is not board-certified and that she has been licensed for 10 years. She then asked Dr Curry how much she was being paid by Mr Depp’s legal team to be here.

“I truly don’t know, I don’t do my own books,” Dr Curry replied, when Ms Bredehoft asked her if she had received $100,000 in fees to appear on behalf of Mr Depp.

“Over $200,000? Ms Bredehoft pressed, as Dr Curry replied again: ”I don’t know.”

Dr Curry affirmed she was not board-certified and that she has never testified about violence between partners previously.

Then Ms Bredehoft’s line of questioning focused on Dr Curry’s interview at Mr Depp’s house by his legal team, prior to the trial.

When asked whether she had dinner with Mr Depp, Dr Curry replied that she became hungry after three hours, when Mr Depp ordered takeout for everyone present at the time – including the actor’s attorneys Adam Waldman, Ben Chew, and Camille Vasquez.

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”.

Follow live updates of the trial here.

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