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Forensic psychologist Shannon Curry, who was hired by actor Johnny Depp’s legal team, testified this Tuesday in the civil lawsuit between Depp and his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, that she diagnosed the 36 year-old with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and histrionic personality disorder, according to a recent Time report.
“Personality is the way of thinking, feeling and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment (surroundings, life situations) and inherited characteristics. A person’s personality typically stays the same over time,” according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Someone may have a personality disorder when their way of “thinking, feeling and behaving” deviates from the cultural expectations that causes problems with functioning over time, the association added.
There are ten personality disorders, which are defined by affecting at least two of the following areas: the way we think about ourselves, the way we respond emotionally, the way we relate to others or the way we control our behavior.
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“BPD is a life-long personality pattern of having too many emotions and having a hard time managing them. As a result, people use immature defense mechanisms that let them behave in ways that ultimately result in feeling or being abandoned,” said Dr. Elie G. Aoun, addiction and forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University and a member of the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), BPD is diagnosed on the basis of a “pervasive” pattern of instability relating to interpersonal relationships and self-image as well as impulsivity that begins by early adulthood, with the diagnostic manual noting patients need to meet criteria for at least 5 symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms include: frequent and intense mood swings, fear of real or imagined abandonment, difficulty maintaining healthy personal relationships, impulsive behavior – like reckless driving, unsafe sexual activity or gambling and paranoia – where people worry that others don’t like them or don’t want to spend time with them, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Curry, who is not board certified, said that BPD is “driven by an underlying fear of abandonment,” so patients with this disorder “will make desperate attempts to prevent that from happening.”
Aoun told Fox News that BPD patients feel so emotionally isolated that they question their own existence. They engage in self-harming behaviors because they feel so empty inside that creating some type of physical pain allows them to overpower their mental capacity that distracts from the emotional pain that they are feeling.
Depp’s team hopes Curry’s diagnosis will support audio clip evidence presented earlier in the trial that has Heard begging Depp not to leave their relationship in spite of his desire to break up, according to Time.
Curry noted BPD also “seems to be a predictive factor for women who implement violence against their partner,” with Depp stating he’s a victim of domestic violence because Heard hit him multiple times as well threw paint cans and vodka bottles at him, per the news magazine.
But on cross-examination, Heard’s defense team noted Curry’s opinions contradicted her doctors’ reports that she was a domestic violence victim because of Depp, according to Newsweek.
Even though Curry noted Heard did not meet criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she said: “Just because somebody doesn’t have PTSD doesn’t mean that they weren’t harmed psychologically by whatever is being alleged — in this case, Ms. Heard is alleging that she was psychologically harmed and that she suffered PTSD because of abuse that she alleges occurred by Mr. Depp.”
Curry interviewed Heard on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, 2021, for a total 12 hours and reviewed her medical records, but she noted to the defense team on cross-examination that she was interviewed by Depp’s legal team at his home where she had dinner and drinks before she was placed on retainer, according to a recent People report.
“Persons with BPD often cause physical harm to themselves because feeling pain is often better than not feeling anything at all. They often act in socially inappropriate ways for the sole purpose of getting a reaction – even if it’s negative because a negative reaction is better than no reaction at all in their eyes,” Aoun said.
“Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim,” Heard wrote in a 2018 op-ed article in the Washington Post.
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“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
Even though Heard’s article never mentioned Depp by name, he is suing her for $50 million in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court for “defamation by implication” since the piece refers to domestic abuse allegations Heard made when she filed for divorce in 2016, according to Time.
Heard, however, filed a $100 million counterclaim for defamation for Depp’s attorney calling her a “liar,” per Yahoo News.
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“I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats. For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars,” Heard wrote in her op-ed.
“I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control.”
If you think you are a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages and calls are toll-free and confidential.