Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Clinical Psychologist Gets Widespread Praise Today For Shapeshifting Expert Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell

Actor Johnny Depp’s Defamation Suit

This is the second week in a courtroom just outside Washington DC for actor Johnny Depp and his ex wife Amber Heard.

Johnny Depp (net worth $150 million) is suing his ex-wife Amber Heard (net worth $8 million) for defamation, for having implied in a Washington Post article in 2018 that he had frequently been violent with her.

Court proceedings are being shown live on several TV channels and various streaming YouTube channels. The national audience may have jumped by several million today while forensic psychologist Dr Shannon Curry testified for Depp’s team.

There were strong shades of Amanda Knox’s apparent syndromes in this testimony. As The Guardian reported:

An expert in intimate partner violence called to give evidence in Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard has testified that her evaluation of the actor revealed two psychiatric diagnoses – borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

Depp’s witness, Shannon Curry, said that the diagnosis came from examination of Heard’s previous psychological assessments, coupled with direct examination on two occasions, and participation in a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test, a court in Alexandria, Virginia, heard on Tuesday.

Curry said that Heard, 36, displayed a “reactive”, “overly dramatic presentation” and used words like “magical” and “wonderful” to describe events. Heard, she said, flitted between “princess and victim”.

As sophisticated, “cute and girlish” as such people may present, Curry said, they “may in reality be very destructive”, “dramatic, erratic and unpredictable” and possessed of an “underlying drive to not be abandoned but also to be center of attention”.

Curry said borderline personality disorder represented an unstable personality, alert to rejection, with little access to self-regulation and marked by “a lot of anger, cruelty toward people less powerful, concerned with image, attention seeking and prone to externalizing blame, a lot of suppressed anger that may explode outwards”.

Anyone attempting an intimate relationship with such a personality, Curry said, would likely go from “idolized to dumpster”. It was typical of borderline personalities, she added, to be “assaultive as partners. They’ll make threats using the legal system, threaten to file for a restraining order, claim abuse.”

There are several full-day versions of today’s testimony on YouTube. Amber Heard did not seem to be enjoying it. YouTube comments are worth reading (scroll down). One comment:

A movie or show could never equate to this woman as a witness. Hands down best witness I’ve ever seen in all the court cases I’ve ever seen.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/26/22 at 09:17 PM in


Shannon Curry actually won points from the TV commentators because her hair was in slight disarray!

One said it could well impress upon the jury that she is a real expert rather than a diva. She came across as non-partisan, as having no dog in this fight.

Amber Heard did much fidgeting and “note taking” which may have added to the growing view that she is a loose canon in serious need of some treatment.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/26/22 at 10:05 PM | #

It’s as well for Depp that Curry was his witness and not the other way around. The description of borderline personality disorder was spot on, as to be expected, but in my opinion the diagnosis could equally apply to both of them, if in different ways taking into account their gender.

Could be just me, but I’d say women are usually the targets for this sort of attack, not men.

If I’m right, why is that?

What is clear to me is that these two have mutually destructive and manipulative personalities and I’d run a mile rather than have anything to do with either.

Posted by James Raper on 04/27/22 at 04:34 AM | #

Hi James. Very good points. Amber Heard’s team may have their own forensic psychologist in the wings. I don’t think we know that yet, right?

Johnny Depp’s substance abuse and childhood demons are on full display. Did they help to lose his case twice in England? I did not really follow that. So far, zero proof here of his laying a hand on her, though both do a lot of yelling.

One of the few good defense questions yesterday was: why are more women accused of Borderline Personalty Disorder? Dr Curry said that is the actual objective picture clinicaly and explained briefly possible causes of it.

The problem is that it is a syndrome often undiagnosed that tends to make victims of others. Many here are suggesting that there is quite a lot of that - the wife of Will Smith of Oscars fame seems to have a history of undermining him

(I’ve been on her side in a few YouTube threads because she had been in love with a rapper who was shot, and married Smith in tears because he got her pregnant with sex she thought was protected.)

Recorded testimony of a Los Angeles police officer yesterday about being called to the Depp house because Amber Heard called in a complaint of domestic violence was to the effect that there was zero evidence of violence, and the cop did not even file a report.

As we’ve posted, Knox witnessed brutality in early childhood, and also later when Curt Knox would not pay her child support. If the courts Edda appealed to (there were several) had been firmer with him, Meredith might even be alive today.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/27/22 at 07:59 AM | #

“The national audience may have jumped by several million today…”

Maybe jumped well over 10 million! This one streaming video alone, one of half a dozen, has had 9.4 million views as of this minute.


Maybe the biggest audience ever X10 for any psychologist. Good thing? I think in this case yes. As many have said, quite apart from the case, it was pretty educational. Useful for ailing US justice.

Here is Shannon Curry’s website: https://tinyurl.com/th74uxn3

And here’s a YouTube comment about her.

Poerava 6 hours ago (edited)

I practiced as a clinical psychologist for 5 years and worked with a colleague similar to Dr Curry. So gifted and insightful. There for the right reasons, for the love of helping others and always wanting to learn more. Very rare. Brilliant observations and findings about Miss Heard.

If I might add my 10 cents. These disorders are not the fault of the person who is experiencing them. Their behaviours can be harmful, yet this diagnosis from Dr Curry, is something that should hopefully be very empowering for Miss Heard and something that others don’t hold against her.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/27/22 at 09:09 AM | #

Here’s a relevant quote from The Sun in the UK, actually about the Petito-Laundrie murder/suicide case in the US.  https://tinyurl.com/7pchwce8  The case is still in the US news as the Petitos are now suing the Laundries.

“Law enforcement has a very tough job determining who is the primary aggressor or the victim acting in self-defense.”  https://tinyurl.com/sv6pvu4m

The Sun is talking about the cops maybe getting it wrong when they stopped the pair just north of Moab.

Gabby Petito may have made the special handsignal described in the article as a call for help; if so the cops missed it.  https://tinyurl.com/3e8whd52

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/27/22 at 09:41 AM | #

At least so far, Amber Heard did not kill anyone, whereas there is enormous proof that Knox did.

But yesterday, another Heard-Knox affinity in addition to the psychology emerged.

We know that Knox didn’t write her own book (as with Sollecito) and has showed often that she did not even check it out once it was done (as with Sollecito - who paid heavily for that in court).

Same with Amber Heard.  You can read “her” accusation in the Washington Post via the link below.


Perhaps read the many vicious anti-Depp comments as well. (Really? In the Washington Post? The NY Times moderates all of theirs.)

It emerged yesterday that the PR arm of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came up with the idea, wrote the first draft, got it into the Washington Post, and timed it to run just as a movie Amber Heard was in was to be released.

Mind you, there has been strong testimony in court of Amber Heard having put on many other acts to the detriment of Johnny Depp.

Still, ACLU and the Washington Post should have checked. They fell down in the fact-checking badly here (like NY Times and Der Spiegel re Knox).

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/29/22 at 07:47 AM | #

And ANOTHER affinity to Knox? Stay tuned.

Amber Heard will herself be on the stand soon. Not only will she have to try to talk her way out of all of the above.

Also, as lawyers and psychologists have already warned, Depp’s lawyers should be able to “press her buttons” to bring her dangerous syndromes into full display.

That happened with Knox under cross-examination twice: December 2007 and July 2009. Especially on the stand in 2009, her rage and callousness and contempt came blazing out.


By itself that pretty well cost her the case.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/29/22 at 08:01 AM | #

In Italy Knox’s trial was largely televised, and so Italians correctly got the hard facts without any media bias interfering.

Same here with the Heard-Depp case. Media are pretty much at one that the hard facts are going against Amber Heard, because that is what American watchers are seeing.

Except for the one lightweight daily half-hour CBS report “Inside Edition”. CBS was given the inside track by Knox PR and has pretty well been our main nemesis.

Check out this report, and then the 100% bias in viewer comments against its take on the facts - oh, and on the weaponizing of the baby.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/30/22 at 03:22 PM | #

Thanks for bringing this one to our attention, I haven’t been following this too much but looking forward to watching some of the highlights. It’s a shame we couldn’t follow the Knox case as easily as you said.

Regarding the borderline personality diagnosis question, that’s something I’ve pondered before - it does appear anecdotally that it gets applied to women much more often than men from my own observations (although I believe the actual stats might be more even).

I suspect really the reason is like most different psychiatric diagnoses they refer to external behaviours only, and given men and women have slightly different biological and also social environments there might be different presentations of what might well be the same underlying, nervous, conditions.

Whereas borderline focuses on unstable relationships there are other disorders which might fit more quote unquote male characteristics like narcissism or schizoid personalities.

I know famously Joni Mitchell who had her fair share of unstable relationships wrote a song called Borderline about getting the diagnosis, like a lot of her stuff it’s worth a listen

Posted by HotAir on 05/01/22 at 10:53 AM | #

Thanks HotAir.

Really helpful for us to have this in mind when Amber Heard testifies (starting Wednesday): that women defendants could have a harder time generally facing down a Borderline Disorder charge and/or using this as their defense.

Especially as the Depp team will be provoking her to display the exact symptoms she will be striving to hide (see tip on this above). 

The Court TV channel just ran a pre-court panel, of a prosecutor and a defense lawyer, and they were asked to look at part of this 2016 deposition of Amber Heard (this may have been given broadcast time in the UK?).


Neither liked what they saw. To both Amber Heard came across as aggressively overacting, which would not win her any sympathy points with a jury yet to see any hard proof that she had a right to run to the Washington Post and tell the whole world she was sole victim here.

Again, shades of Knox on the stand in 2009, trying to claim that investigators had been so aggressive that they forced a false confession out of her - but killing all believability because she showed the jury (and watching Italy) how hard and aggressive and demonizing she really is.

(My guess is a main reason why Sollecito and his team were always so annoyed with Knox was because through her overacting she was actually signalling the truth. In 2015 what Sollecito and Bongiorno wanted from the Supreme Court was a new separate trial or appeal. The actual messy outcome has never served Sollecito well. He remains chained to her.)

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/02/22 at 10:12 AM | #

Today yet another affinity between Amber Heard and Amanda Knox emerged, this one not really a surprise in face of the huge threat she faces on the stand (see takes on this above).

Amber Heard has hired a new PR firm to try to make her likeable and authentic on the stand, just as Knox’s behavior in court was modeled by PR guru David Marriott and father Curt Knox.

So at trial in 2009 we saw the daffy wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly Knox (rather sabotaged by her angry stint on the stand) and at the annulled appeal in 2011 we saw the widows-weeds I’m-the-real-victim Knox.

Thereafter of course she disappeared back to the States and sent arrogant missives to the judge from afar - again hardly smart PR as her guilty verdict was reconfirmed.

Unlikely that PR will hide Amber Heard’s syndromes either when the going gets tough,  just as Knox PR failed back in 2009.


You may recall that it was incautious PR (ACLU PR) that let this cat out of the bag - the ACLU top counsel made quite clear on the stand that ACLU lawyers never gave the Washington Post hit-job a green light.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/02/22 at 09:12 PM | #

More breaking news on the “saving Amber Heard’s sinking ship” front.

The Amber Heard team will be putting their own forensic psychologist, Dr Dawn Hughes, first on the stand on Tuesday PM before Amber Heard who will start to testify on Wednesday AM.


The Heard team had actually contracted with Hughes a while back to explain away psychology quirks, and so Dr Shannon Curry was appointed by court order to come up with an objective take - see video at the top.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/02/22 at 10:27 PM | #

Well that was… odd.

Monday afternoon psychologist Dawn Hughes testified on Amber Heard’s pysychology, basically doing nothing but uncritically and sometimes vehemently parroting Heard’s own suspect words, and somehow concluding that all fault was Depp’s and Heard has or had PTSD.

Time and again Hughes had to poke around in her disorganised notes to refresh her memory though Heard’s own legal team have been sarcastic of any Depp witness who ever referred to any notes.

Court-appointed psychologist Shannon Curry, seen testifying in the video at top, was in court taking notes and is subject to recall. Depp’s team will cross-examine Dawn Hughes today. Hypnotic stuff.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 07:38 AM | #

Yet another affinity between Heard and Knox. Heard has been the most prominent spokesperson for the ACLU on domestic violence. In that paid role she has given numerous emotional self-serving presentations, surprisingly similar to what Knox has done for a fee for the Innocence Project etc etc etc.

Several old presentations have been excerpted on US TV. None seem to be on YouTube (maybe removed?); but here is one that ran 5 years ago on the DailyMotion website.


Online, women are among the most irritated critics of Amber Heard, for having chilled vital support to real victims of domestic violence.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 07:58 AM | #

Hollywood powerbrokers seem to have already seen enough. Several showbiz reporters have said that Heard’s career seems done and that much of her role in the new Aquaman movie pending release is now on the cutting room floor.

Signatures on a petition to have her removed altogether from the movie have exceeded 3 million.


Meanwhile, the emerging buzz about Depp’s career is this:  https://tinyurl.com/fy8sw6bd

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 09:17 AM | #

Perhaps some insight on this from James or HotAir or anyone else who observed Depp’s failed libel suit last year against Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun?

Some UK posters on YouTube threads have been quite critical of the London judge (oddly to us here in the US, there was no jury) and the Sun newspaper itself. Key evidence was apparently disallowed, and the judge may have been bent. (Sound familiar?!)

Pity this US trial did not come first, or simply instead.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 09:21 AM | #

Prior to being married to Johnny Depp, Amber Heard was sort-of married to a girl. It did not end well. See what happened here.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 10:03 AM | #

Wednesday night.  At first glance, TV and YouTube viewership today for Amber Heard and her red-in-the-face psychologist was only about 10% of the enormous number that tuned in to watch Dr Shannon Curry’s analysis of Heard.

Perhaps everyone simply knew that Shannon Curry had hit the nail on the head and today there would be no surprise reveal? Though the predictions that Amber Heard would display the syndromes Dr Curry described all kinda presumed that it’d be the Depp team to provoke them.

But what more is there to provoke? Under her own lawyer’s questioning, she has already launched into Amanda Knox’s trademark arc.  Perhaps Knox will threaten to sue?! As she seemed to want to do over a recent movie - which actually ended with a reveal of her alter ego’s guilt.

It appears that even Amber Heard’s mother knows she has problems with the truth and is unsafe and could use help. After the two broke up, the mom was apparently texting to Johnny Depp to forgive the quirks and to please take Amber back.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/04/22 at 08:28 PM | #

It looks like putting Amber Heard’s hot-headed, shoot-from-the hip psychologist on first was a huge misfire. (She had never even met Depp, but had angrily condemned him 100% from afar.)

All the expert advice on TV was that Amber Heard needed to be cool-headed and likeable on the stand and not ignore the mountain of contrary facts .

But instead of this we saw Knox’ trademark cycle: (1) come blazing out, and wail, and try hard to cry, misrepresenting or ignoring hard facts; (2) calm down, in the blink of an eye, and peer around to see what effect she just had.

See several dozen YouTubes as Exhibit #1. Knox doing that was described in the New York Times; dummy reporter Jessica Bennett, who did not know the basic facts of the case, was taken in. 

But here the basic facts have been pouring out in court for several weeks. The emotional psychologist simply ignored all of that - and opened the way to Amber Heard doing the same.

Amber Heard’s new PR must be having a fit - as Knox’s did in July 2009.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/05/22 at 08:06 AM | #

As you may have noticed (members of the jury too??) among the many anti-Heard comments on the YouTubes there are some useful and insightful comments from those with relevant experience. Maybe 10% have been DV victims themselves and are providing valuable insights.  I’ve yet to see even one saying that Amber Heard rings true.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/05/22 at 08:37 AM | #

Cool-headed and competent and dispassionate psychologist Shannon Curry will be back on the stand. Here is one comment which paraphrases a great point she made.

Candice Wells: Something that sticks to my mind about Borderline Personality and Histrionic Personality and what some of the panelists are saying is the extreme embellishment of the alleged abuse including her facial expressions.. I had a boss tell me once that with Borderline Personality there is what he called “shreds of the truth” but their perceptions of reality are often distorted and they truly believe the story they are conveying because of this distorted perception of reality…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/05/22 at 08:49 AM | #

On that last point regarding ‘shreds of the truth’....I wonder if an analogy might be to that of young children whose version of the truth seems to be more of an emotional truth than actual truth e.g. my friends daughter was lightly struck by a dogs wagging tail, she burst out crying even though it couldn’t have hurt and said she had been hit, what she meant, I think, was that she was surprised and frightened and it made her cry. Emotional volatile people may well equate words or feelings with physical things. That said, I don’t find it hard to believe Depp may have actually struck her, he said/she said is difficult to determine one way or the other.

On the legal question, I’m confused- is Depp found against/guilty if he is judged to have hit Heard? And does it make any difference if she also hit him? I understand it makes her a hypocrite but surely she is still ok to write that she was a victim of abuse if she was hit regardless of what she did? I don’t mean she has the moral high round, but from the point of view of what they are disputing in court.

Posted by HotAir on 05/05/22 at 09:12 AM | #

Hi Hotair

“On the legal question, I’m confused - is Depp found against/guilty if he is judged to have hit Heard?”

Black box jury, of course. But it is expected to look at the hard facts over the whole period described in the WaPo op-ed.

Legal commenters here feel Depp has a strong edge at the moment. Heard seems incapable of proving anything, though she sure seems to have tried to frame him before they separated.

Heard was dumb as a rock to allow the unchecked WaPo op-ed out there, and to break the confidentially agreement (NDA) with Depp, and to leave a large and damning paper trail.

But Depp was less than smart also: he could have stipulated that she would get annual payments open-ended of $1-2 million, subject to her respecting the NDA. There’d be no court case.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/05/22 at 08:40 PM | #

Hi, Hot Air (and others)

Please remember that this is a civil case for damages for defamation where the jury will find against one or other version of the truth based on the balance of probabilities. It is not a criminal trial.

Further points to remember :

1. The article to which Depp’s claim relates did not name Depp as the abuser, be
  it is obvious to whom she was referring. However although, as I understand
  it, she is not contesting the content, it was not actually she who published
  what was said.

2. There’s something about free speech in the American Constitution, is there
  not? What Heard may have truthfully, or not, said to the Washington Post in
  private, even if knowing what the consequences would well be, is a different
  thing from committing the libel (if that is what it is) by the Washington
  Post. The more obvious target, for me, would be the WP, but Depp has already
  had his hands burnt by going after a publisher.

  That said, Depp knows what he is doing. By going after Heard he is
  deliberately turning the case into a popularity contest. Is he not the
  greater Star and winning hands down in the fickle and egregious social media
  with hordes of love and star struck female teenagers gagging after him?

3. Whether he wins is going to depend on the jury. I am not a great fan of
  juries in civil cases, for precisely the aforesaid reasons, and neither are
  the judiciary in the UK. Is this jury sequestrated? Yes, it is to do with
  reputations but more than that, and only in America, it is about
  making/losing pots of money.

4. Heard has counterclaimed for damages.

Both could possibly win their respective claims, in part i.e as to individual elements as to what they are saying about each other, rather than as to the whole i.e one is to be believed altogether rather than the other.

Whatever one makes of Heard, is not Depp a self-confessed drug user (if not addict) and have we not all seen the video of Depp ranting and slamming his way round the cabinet doors in their kitchen before clocking the presence of the Iphone recording it all and manhandling it away from Heard? That’s domestic abuse and you have to have your head in the clouds not to put two and two together. On the question of whether or not Depp had ever hit Heard, which he denies, I don’t think (correct me if I am wrong) that such an allegation was ever made in the article or, come to that, any specific allegation was ever made against Depp.

So this is a madhouse of a case (which the american public and the media absolutely love) with many different legal angles and pitfalls. Unless the jury are capable of grasping this and sorting the chaff from the wheat (rather than allowing good acting, and/or emotion, and/or personal prejudice, to sway the outcome, which I doubt) then it would have been far better to leave this in the hands of the judge. At least we would then have reasons, and detailed reasons, for whatever is the outcome.

If I was the judge I would conclude -

“On behalf of the nation, the media, and all the besotted clots with nothing better to do than follow this case in such depth, may I thank you both for the great entertainment and diversion you have provided in such difficult times for us all!

However I am going to dismiss both your claims as I have been unable to decide, even, largely, on a fact by fact basis, which is the more reliable, such that I can be completely satisfied as to that on the balance of probabilities.Even if one element, from one side, could be held to be sustained, the same could be said for an element the other side weighed against it, and the case cannot be resolved on the basis of a set of weighing scales. What would be the criteria and how would that deliver justice? And then how would one assess damages? No, this will not do.

So. please,both of you get a life, be it different from the one you had before.”

“All rise” etc

Posted by James Raper on 05/06/22 at 07:21 AM | #

Judge Judy would have had this case sorted in 10 minutes.

Posted by James Raper on 05/06/22 at 09:14 AM | #

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your thoughts, I’m sure you’re quite right that a few million a year would have bought it away! It certainly could have been handled better by both parties, neither seem to be of sound mind so it is what it is- a trailer park fight for the world to see.

& James,

You are quite right, this is really a case for daytime tv rather than a court (although of course in america it is both!), thanks for elucidating on the legal points, I hadn’t grasped it was a civil case. I agree with your view about Depp, in these types of relationships things would have been flying in either direction no doubt. He’s certainly winning the popularity contest which may have been part of the point of it. And your Judge James summation seems entirely apt- how does one decide in these cases? It doesn’t really seem to be a matter for courts, leave it to the court of public opinion for those that care.

I can’t say I would miss seeing Depps quirky mannerisms on screen and thankfully have never seen Heard in anything. I pronounce them both guilty of overacting.

Posted by HotAir on 05/06/22 at 01:13 PM | #

There is a jury of seven and four alternates; I think mostly men. I believe that Virginia is one of the states where in civil cases only a majority of jurors (ie four) must decide for one or the other at the end.

The keyword here is INTENT. It seems 100% unlikely that either the ACLU or Washington Post had intent to hurt, so no point in suing them.

Did Amber Heard have intent to hurt? Like Knox, she seems pretty bad news with a proven history of getting kicks out of causing harm. That is what really came across in the first part of this trial, the psychologist Dr Curry explained why, and then tellingly the judge turned down a motion to dismiss.

Something key has just happened. Amber Heard’s lawyers had argued that the Depp team would need to prove that Amber herself wrote the Op-Ed to prove intent. She must have rattled her team because oops she has just blithely concurred that she did.
My guess? Depp will win but the damages awarded against Heard will be small, perhaps even a token amount, and Depp may even forgive that - Heard’s worth of $7 million almost all came from him anyway.

She will surely need to seriously reinvent herself, maybe including therapy, to have a shot at any more films.

Meanwhile Depp will be off to France to play Louis XV in a new film. XV was a pretty dissolute king. He sowed the seeds of the French Revolution - and then the weasel died in bed. Depp is one of the laughingest guys on the planet (the very opposite of Heard); I bet he has had a giggle at that.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/06/22 at 03:02 PM | #

Of course, Captain Jack Sparrow is a Brit. A very funny Brit. Much of his humor is in his running away. It’s quite Monty Python at times.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/06/22 at 04:32 PM | #

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