The dueling legal battles between Robert De Niro and his former assistant continued on Wednesday.
A forensic psychiatrist testified that Graham Chase Robinson showed "signs of narcissism, paranoia and grandiosity."
The psychiatrist said Robinson's personality traits led her to believe she was being targeted for retaliation.
Is it all in her head?
The former executive assistant for Robert De Niro showed signs of narcissism, paranoia and grandiosity that may have contributed to her perception that she was being targeted by De Niro's girlfriend and discriminated against because she's a woman, a forensic psychiatrist testified today in Manhattan federal court.
Ivy League-trained shrink Dr. Kimberly Resnick took the stand Wednesday morning on behalf of the two-time Oscar winner, who is being sued by Graham Chase Robinson, his former high-paid assistant. Robinson says the actor only gave her duties that were "stereotypically female."
When Robinson clashed with the star's girlfriend Tiffany Chen, Robinson claimed in her lawsuit, she was retaliated against – given reduced roles in De Niro's company, Canal Productions, until she eventually quit in February 2019.
Another psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Goldstein, testified on Robinson's behalf on Tuesday, telling the jury that her perception of her treatment during her time with De Niro gave her "generalized anxiety disorder," a debilitating mental health condition that has left her unable to sleep at night, get a new job or have a normal social life. Robinson's team hopes to prove that their client has suffered long-term injury from her time working for De Niro and is owed compensation for the damage.
Resnick's testimony countered Goldstein's conclusion.
"I observed her to have some of the symptoms of anxiety," Resnick told the court. "I did not observe it to reach the level of any psychiatric disorder." She said that the sleep problems Robinson suffers from could come from back problems or acid reflux disease.
Contrary to Goldstein's testimony, Resnick's analysis of the ex-assistant was that her personality traits led her to believe that she was being targeted for retaliation.
"I evaluated her personality traits and I find signs of narcissism, paranoia and grandiosity," Resnick said. She testified that Robinson has an inflated self-esteem that could mask what is actually low self-esteem. The ex-assistant also saw harm where there wasn't actually any malintent, the court heard.
"The distresses she was experiencing were really the result of her perception of the world, especially where her self-esteem was threatened," Resnick said.
Resnick said that she conducted a seven-hour interview with Robinson, as well as a review of therapy notes and medical records.
In the months after Robinson quit, she flew to a friend's wedding, applied to business graduate school, and traveled widely, according to Robinson's own testimony earlier in the trial.
"There was a lot of optimism, enthusiasm and relief," the psychiatrist testified. Robinson told her that she was "really happy that life is finally going to be fun – it's finally about her."
Later that year, however, DeNiro sued her for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud after an investigation by his staff and accountant found she had transferred five million frequent flyers from the company into her personal account. She was also accused of profligate personal spending on De Niro's American Express Gold card.
In response, Robinson filed a federal suit against the "Raging Bull" actor, claiming gender discrimination and retaliation.
It may be the litigation, not her time working with DeNiro, that may have caused Robinson's emotional problems, the court heard.
"That may be a significant independent stressor no matter how it is resolved," Resnick said. "[Litigation] is a very adversarial component of life that can be very traumatizing."
The doctor said that the notes from Robinson's therapist show that the sessions were almost exclusively about the lawsuits.
"My conclusion was: while Ms. Robinson experienced some signs of distress, they were a response to normal causes," she said. "Often one's perception of the world causes as much distress as the world itself."
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