What are the personality disorders Johnny Depp’s team diagnosed Amber Heard with?



A psychologist has testified in US court that Amber Heard has two personality disorders: Borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

Dr Shannon Curry, who was hired by Johnny Depp’s legal team, took the stand in Virginia on Tuesday 26 April in the Depp v Heard case.

Depp has accused his former wife of defaming 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”.

The court heard from Curry that she met with Heard twice in December 2021 to conduct a psychological evaluation. After spending a total of 12 hours together, she deduced two diagnoses.

Curry said Heard quickly shifts between emotions, that she would “suddenly be one way and then she would become very animated or very sad”.

She added that Heard’s score was consistent with people who “externalise blame” and have “a lot of inner anger”.

“These people might have that anger explode out at times. They tend to be very passive aggressive; they may be very self-indulgent, self-centered,” Curry said.

What is histrionic personality disorder?

Mental health charity Mind describes histrionic personality disorder (HPD) as an “emotional and impulsive” disorder.

It is characterised by a need for constant approval or seeking compliments or positive feedback from others.

The charity notes that, while most people enjoy receiving praise, in histrionic personality disorder, this can affect a person’s day-to-day living.

Those with HPD feel “very uncomfortable if they are not the centre of attention”, and feel that they have to constantly seek, or feel dependent on, the approval of others, Mind said.

The disorder can also affect behaviour. People with HPD may make rash decisions, flirt or behave and dress provocatively to garner attention and have a reputation of being dramatic and overemotional.

Curry said Heard displayed an “overly dramatic presentation”. She said those with HPD tend to speak in “flowery” language, using a lot of descriptive words like “magical” and “wonderful”.

Addressing the quick change in emotions observed in Heard, Curry said: “When people are displaying these emotions with this disorder, there’s a sense of shallowness to it. People who are observing them will feel like it’s almost play acting, and they might not be able to put their finger on it.

“But part of it is because of the rapidness with which the person can switch emotions.”

Additionally, Curry said Heard rarely expressed her own emotions through words.

“[People with HPD] don’t really refer to ‘I feel this way’. They might describe emotions, they might describe events,” Curry explained.

“Miss Heard did not, say ‘I feel vulnerable’, she never really indicated a vulnerable feeling of her own.”

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD), or Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is also grouped under “emotional and impulsive” disorders.

Curry described BPD as a disorder of stability. “It’s instability, instability in personal relationships, instability in their emotions, instability in their behaviour and instability in their sense of self and identity,” she said.

Those diagnosed with BPD tend to have difficulties with how they think and feel about themselves and other people, and this can cause problems in their lives.

For example, they may have an intense fear of being abandoned by others, so will either do anything to stop that happening, or push them away.

They also experience very intense emotions that change quickly, such as from feeling very happy to very sad. They may get extremely angry and struggle to control their anger, and have a hard time trusting others.

Mind said people with BPD find it difficult to make and keep stable relationships and friendships, that they may act impulsively, or engage in self-destructive behaviours like using drugs or driving dangerously.

Explaining Heard’s fear of abandonment, Curry told the court: “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 usually very extreme and very concerning to the people around them,” she added.

The Independent has contacted Amber Heard’s representatives for comment.



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