Amber Heard suffers from personality disorders, psychologist tells defamation trial

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Amber Heard suffers from personality disorders, psychologist tells defamation trial
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Amber Heard suffers from two personality disorders involving “extreme effort to be the centre of attention” and is suspected of faking post-traumatic stress disorder from her marriage to Johnny Depp, a forensic psychologist has said.

Dr Shannon Curry spent two days with the actress in December last year before diagnosing her with a borderline personality disorder and a histrionic personality disorder.

Giving evidence at Heard’s libel battle with Depp, the psychologist identified symptoms including “making up stories” and “manipulation tactics”, and said the disorders can be driven by a “terror of abandonment”.

And Dr Curry dismissed Heard’s claims to have suffered PTSD in the wake of her marriage to Depp, telling the Fairfax County court she found “pretty significant indications that she was grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD when asked about them”.

Depp, 58, is suing his ex-wife for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed piece in which she described herself as a victim of violent and sexual abuse, while the Aquaman star, 35, is countersuing for $100 million over Depp’s claims that she is lying.

Clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Shannon Curry testifies during Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard (REUTERS)
Clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Shannon Curry testifies during Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard (REUTERS)

The latest evidence from their volatile marriage included a claim from Depp’s Bahamas island manager that Heard said he would “die a fat, lonely old man” and called him a “washed-up actor”.

Tara Roberts also claimed to have witnessed Heard grabbing Depp’s clothes and hair, while she also described the Pirates of the Caribbean star once passing out drunk on the beach in front of his children.

Dr Curry, who was hired by Depp’s team to conduct evaluations of Heard, told jurors the disorders she found include “a tendency to be very self-righteous but to also deny that self-righteousness and to judge others critically against these high standards.

“They could use manipulation tactics to try and get their needs met, very needy of attention, approval, acceptance”, she said.

“They tend to distance people who are close to them. Initially they may seem very charming. They’re very socially sophisticated actually.”

She described personality disorder sufferers making “desperate attempts” to prevent a relationship from ending, saying that often turns the partner into a “punching bag”.

Depp’s case rests on an argument that Heard invented a series of allegations of domestic abuse during their relationship, and it was he who had in reality been the victim of violent outbursts.

Johnny Depp v Amber Heard defamation lawsuit at the County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virgina (2022)

Dr Curry said Heard had showed signs of “dramatic presentation”, telling the court: “When people are displaying these emotions with this personality disorder, there’s a sense of shallowness to it,” she said.

“People who are observing them will feel like it’s almost play-acting. This disorder involves extreme discomfort with not being the centre of attention, extreme efforts to be the centre of attention.

“When they feel they’re not the centre of attention you will see some strange things (like) making up stories to try and get attention (or) taking on the victim or princess role.”

Turning to PTSD, the doctor said it is an “easily faked” disorder, concluding: “Ms Heard did not have PTSD, there were also pretty significant indications that she was grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD when asked about them.”

The court heard Dr Curry had dinner and drinks with Depp and his legal team before assessing Heard, and she was accused of potential bias. But he said this was part of the interview process.

Heard is expected to give evidence as the seven-week trial continues.

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