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A Psychologist Hired By Johnny Depp Testified That Amber Heard Has Borderline Personality Disorder

Shannon Curry said she believes Heard was "grossly exaggerating" when asked about having PTSD symptoms.

Brendan Smialowski / POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Amber Heard arrives at the courtroom for the defamation trial against her at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 26, 2022.

A forensic psychologist who was hired by Johnny Depp's legal team testified on Tuesday that she believes Amber Heard has borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder and does not have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Shannon Curry said that in preparation for the defamation trial, she spent about 12 hours with Heard, during which Heard took several mental health tests. Curry said she also reviewed Heard's health records, documents, audio recordings, photos, and videos. Based on the test results, Curry said she believes Heard has a lot of inner hostility and is self-righteous, judgmental, and full of rage.

"These aren't fact, but her scores were consistent with other people who had obtained these scores who have been shown through many, many studies to have these very specific traits," Curry said.

Her testimony comes as lawyers for Depp and Heard have tried to paint the other as the aggressor in their violent marriage. Depp sued Heard for $50 million for defamation after Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, in which she said she is a victim of domestic violence. Depp has testified that he was actually the victim of domestic violence during their relationship, and he has claimed that the implication that he abused Heard — which he denies doing — hurt his reputation and cost him movie deals and other opportunities.

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Heard has not yet taken the stand, but her attorneys have accused Depp of physical and sexual abuse, which they said often happened when he was using drugs or alcohol.

On Tuesday, Curry testified that she believed Heard's test results revealed she had a personality type tied to anger and cruelty "usually with people who are less powerful." Curry said when psychologists see this code type, it's best to follow up with the patient's subordinates, coworkers, and others "who may have observed their behavior more closely."

"The 36 code type is very concerned with their image, very attention-seeking, very prone to externalizing blame to a point where it's unclear whether they can even admit to themselves that they do have responsibility in certain areas," Curry said.

In addition to that personality type, Curry said she believed Heard has borderline personality disorder. Curry told the court that the defining characteristic of borderline personality disorder is instability, which shows up in a person's relationships, emotions, behavior, sense of self, and identity.

In Heard, she said, "that instability is really driven by this underlying terror of abandonment."

Brendan Smialowski / POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Shannon Curry testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 26, 2022.

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Curry said when someone has borderline personality disorder and they are afraid of abandonment, they will make "desperate attempts" to prevent someone from leaving, such as by using physical aggression, threats, or harming themselves. (Depp previously testified that he responded to conflict with Heard by trying to leave, for example locking himself in a bathroom.)

A tactic people with borderline personality disorder may use is physically assaulting someone else and then "getting harmed themselves," Curry said. They might also make threats of using the legal system, like saying they will file a restraining order or they might claim abuse, she said.

Heard in 2016 obtained a restraining order against Depp, including a photo of her bruised face in the court filing.

In court on Tuesday, Curry added that she believes Heard has histrionic personality disorder, and its key features are drama and shallowness. People with the disorder may be uncomfortable with not being the center of attention, and when they feel like they're not the center of attention, they will make up stories, take on a victim or "princess" role, or seek caretaking, Curry said.

Heard has publicly described living with the effects of trauma, telling The Sunday Times in 2018, for example, that she was triggered by watching the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

"I don’t hide under a table when I hear a loud bang, though that happens to certain people with PTSD," Heard told the Times. "Trauma sneaks up on you in weird ways, where all of a sudden you find yourself in a puddle on the floor, crying while watching this play out live on Fox or CNN."

Based on her evaluation, Curry told the court on Tuesday she believes that Heard does not have PTSD and was "grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD when asked about them." Curry said there are 20 "core symptoms" of PTSD, and initially, when being interviewed by her, Heard said she had 19 of the 20 symptoms.

"That's not typical of somebody with even the most disabling form of PTSD," Curry testified.

Curry said when she continued to ask Heard about her symptoms, she found Heard had three of the 20.

Curry did not evaluate Depp.

Paige Skinner is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles

Contact Paige Skinner at paige.skinner@buzzfeed.com.

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