Forensic Psychologist Dr Curry Testimony Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Trial
On Day 9 of the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Defamation trial, forensic Psychologist Dr Curry testified that she diagnosed Amber Heard with Borderline and Histrionic personality disorders, and made other determinations relevant to the case, after examining records pertaining to Amber's history and performing 12 hours of assessment interviews with Amber in person.
I watched most of Dr Curry's testimony live and revisited what she had to say by creating a transcript of her entire testimony. She is impressive: thorough, knowledgeable, and unflappable.
Her testimony is worthy of taking a look at to decipher who to believe in the competing DV accusations of this former couple. It's also worthy as a study of personalities that you might bump up against in your own life, and psychology best practices.
Read on to find out what conclusions Dr Curry made about Amber, what her diagnoses mean, exactly how she came to her conclusions, and what all the fuss was about muffins.
What's in This Post
|Transcript of Dr Curry's Testimony|
|Who is Dr Shannon Curry?|
|Dr Curry’s Education and Training|
|Psychological Assessments Training and Experience|
|Dr Curry's Diagnosis of Amber Heard|
|What is a Personality Disorder?|
|Cluster B Personality Disorders|
|What is Borderline Personality Disorder?|
|Borderline Personality Chameleon Effect|
|Borderline Personality and Emotional Reactivity|
|Amber Heard's Emotional Reactivity|
|Borderline Personality and DV|
|What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?|
|How Dr Curry Concluded Amber Doesn’t Have PTSD|
|Amber Attempted to Manipulate Results|
|How Targets of False Accusations of Abuse Feel|
|Is it Abusive Jealously or Normal Suspicion?|
|Alcohol Use and Partner Abuse|
|Why Therapists Don’t Know Whether Abuse Accusations are True|
|Dr Curry's Muffins, Muffingate|
|The Basis of Dr Curry’s Evaluation of Amber Heard|
|Trial Testimony from Other Psychologists|
Transcript of Dr Curry's Testimony
Dr Curry testified in-person during Johnny Depp's defamation trial against Amber Heard because of a OpEd that Amber wrote in the Washington Post in 2018.
I made a transcription of Dr Curry's testimony. I'm not guaranteeing that the transcription is perfect, but I have attempted to ensure its accuracy.
Her testimony was split between before and after lunch so I based my transcript off of 2 videos of the trial.
There are a variety of sources for the trial videos. The ones that I based the transcripts from are from the Daily Mail website: Johnny Depp Amber Heard trial Day 9 - (Part 1) and Johnny Depp Amber Heard trial Day 9 - (Part 2).
Dr Curry's testimony begins at 01:09:52 in the 1st video. It picks up on the 2nd video and runs until 03:29:41.
I have included most, though not all, of her testimony in this post. I broke it up into topics rather than running it just by time sequence.
Numbers in brackets that appear throughout this post represent the time on a video. Testimony from the 2nd part of the day are designated "Part 2" by the timestamp.
Any underlining or bolding is added by me for emphasis.
Note: Dr Curry uses the acronym IPV. It stands for Intimate Partner Abuse. It isn't well-defined in the literature exactly what behaviors constitute IPV, but some use it as a replacement for the term Domestic Violence (DV).
Who is Dr Shannon Curry?
(01:09:52) to (01:22:07)
Dr Shannon Curry is a psychologist licensed in California and Hawaii, and certified as a forensic evaluator for the state of Hawaii, who was “contracted by Johnny Depp’s team to provide a psychological evaluation of Amber.”
She has had a clinical practice (currently with 13 staff), Curry Psychology Group, for 15 years.
Dr Curry’s description of the clinic:
“a multispecialty mental health center. So we have neuropsychologists who do testing for kids. We have therapists, individual therapists, couples therapists, family therapists. We even have a meditation teacher. We basically try to meet the needs of our community, and we highly specialize in working with military personnel and their families.”
Dr Curry’s Education and Training
Dr Curry has a doctoral degree in clinical psych at Pepperdine University.
She did a yearlong internship at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii:
“one of the top training sites for military psychologists. I was very lucky to be able to train there. They have wonderful funding and a lot of new research going on, particularly for PTSD, but really for all areas of mental health.”
“My internship specifically was dedicated to essentially working with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic stress.”
“I then completed two years of postdoctoral training at Hawaii State Hospital, a locked forensic psychology facility. And that's where you essentially have individuals with severe mental illness who have committed crimes.”
Psychological Assessments Training and Experience
“A lot of my training has been with psychological assessment and testing, and then my training during practicum and then in my post doctoral work was dedicated to working with trauma populations and also conducting forensic psychological assessments."
"Oftentimes forensic psychological assessments actually refers to doing testing and an interview and a couple of other things for purposes related to law. So it's the application of psychology to the courts to legal issues, and sometimes that also involves doing assessments for the military to determine whether somebody has sustained a mental disability after combat.”
“Most of my litigation, if we're talking about civil work—that has mostly been reports. So this is my first time testifying in a civil matter."
"The majority of my forensic work has been in criminal law or providing psychological assessments, and then I produce a really methodical report, which is typically reviewed by a judge and a determination is made, or usually there's a settlement beforehand."
“I am a certified forensic evaluator for the state of Hawaii, which means that I have been appointed by the court to conduct evaluations for matters that are presented. And then I'm also on the list of forensic evaluators in several courts in Southern California. And then I'm also contracted by the military, the Department of Defense, now and again for evaluations of PTSD from service members.”
Dr Curry's Diagnosis of Amber Heard
"The results of Ms. Heard's evaluation supported two diagnoses, borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder."
"In addition to looking for Miss Heard's general mental status, any psychological issues that were present, I very specifically was assessing to determine whether post traumatic stress disorder was present, and it was not."
Dr Curry also noted that her assessments demonstrated that Amber was "feigning": "faking or exaggerating symptoms that aren't present." (02:39:27)
I'll explain and provide more testimony on each of these throughout this post.
Dr. Curry's diagnosis of Amber Heard is the opposite of the diagnosis provided by Dr Dawn Hughes, the DV specialist that Amber Heard hired.
What is a Personality Disorder?
There are 10 personality disorders including narcissism, sociopathy, dependent, borderline, and histrionic.
Mental illnesses (i.e. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.) are different then personality disorders.
One difference is that medications and other ways of addressing chemical imbalances (i.e. exercise, supplements . . .) can often help with mental illness, but personality disorders are not about a chemical imbalance. Medications etc might help with some of the symptoms of a personality disorder but don't impact the underlying issues.
Personality disorders are EXTREMELY difficult to treat. It takes long-term focused therapeutic interventions to retrain attitudes and behaviors. And the person with the personality disorder has to remain dedicated to making the changes.
Dr Curry explained the difference between personality disorders and mental illness.
Dr Curry (01:27:13)
"To understand a personality disorder, I think it can be helpful first to kind of define personality.
So personality is something we take for granted, but these are the traits, the characteristics, the way we think we feel and we act that make us who we are. And these traits are pretty stable.
Over time and across situations, we might be sure to mind our Ps and Qs when we're meeting somebody new. But overall, if somebody were to describe us or if we were to describe ourselves, we have a pretty good sense of who we are.
Sometimes an easy way to think of it is imagining how you might describe a brother or sister or a child. If you have children, their personalities are pretty clear to you. A personality disorder is some sort of dysfunction in those enduring traits.
So as opposed to other types of mental illness, when you think about something like default depression, that's episodic, it comes and it goes. And when it's treated with medication, it can pretty much be completely mitigated or minimized in a person's life, and their personality is still there, separate from the depression.
When we have a personality disorder, there are going to be disturbances in several different areas that are visible in almost all different facets of their life."
Cluster B Personality Disorders
There are 10 personality disorders. Four of them form a group known as Cluster B:
There is a lot of overlapping traits, behaviors, and outcomes for these 4 personality disorders.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Dr. Curry (02:10:21)
"Borderline personality disorder is a disorder of stability.
It's instability and it's instability in personal relationships. It's instability in their emotions. It's instability in their behavior, and it's instability in their sense of self and their identity.
And that instability is really driven by this underlying terror of abandonment. So one of the key features also this disorder, all of it is like pistons of an engine kind of firing off and igniting one another.
But 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 attempts 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 behaviors that are usually very extreme and very concerning to the people around them.
The anger is typically what sadly, it's counteractive, right. So the thing these people fear most is being abandoned. But over time, the anger, the explosive anger that they show when somebody is needing space or when somebody's really not doing anything wrong, because a lot of times they read into things that they perceive as being a slight to them or somebody intending to harm them that actually isn't happening, they'll exaggerate it and they'll explode."
"They'll react in this heightened manner that is just exhausting for their partners.
Oftentimes their partners will try to make them happy at first and really allow themselves to be a punching bag, thinking that they can somehow solve this problem, that somehow they can make this better, and eventually it just overwhelms them."
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:20:18)
"Is there a relationship between borderline personality disorder and intimate relationships?
Dr. Curry (02:20:28)
"Yes. So the instability definitely translates to their relationships.
You'll see, relationships start very intensely. Somebody with borderline personality just sort of perceives the relationship as extremely close. This pattern of idealizing and devaluing is definitely a play. They do this with their lovers and also with their friends.
And so this might be the perfect person, their perfect soulmate friend, perfect soulmate partner, and their engagement in the relationship is very alluring very charming to the other person. And so initially everything seems great.
But what occurs is that reality sets in. People are not perfect even when we have a lot in common with them, whereas most of us can accept somebody as a whole, somebody who has a little bit of flaws and still think, this is my great friend who's always constantly running late for dinner.
The person with borderline personality disorder things are in these extremes, this black and white, we call it splitting. And so that person goes from being idealized, the perfect person, to dumpster. They are totally devalued. They are the worst friend. They don't care anything about me. I have better people around.
And then there will be a repair, because the person with this disorder does feel remorseful after they have these reactions, angry, tell their friend off.
But over time, it wears away at these relationships. And so what you'll usually see is many transitions in their friendships over the years, people who have sort of fallen by the wayside, who were really very close knit at one time. But there's not a lot of consistency in the long term.
You'll also see that with their intimate relationships, many relationships, but none that are particularly long-term.
Borderline Personality Chameleon Effect
One of the ways that Borderline Personality Disorder plays out is with what is called The Chameleon Effect, or mirroring, or mimicking.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:22:23)
"How does borderline personality disorder relate to identity issues?"
Dr. Curry (02:22:28)
"That instability also travels toward identity.
When I was describing personality earlier, I was talking a little bit about those traits we have that help us know who we are. When you have borderline personality disorder, that actually is not something you understand.
So people with this disorder actually take on the identity of the people they're spending time with because it's comforting.
It's very uncomfortable to not know who you are. Some people with this disorder will describe a feeling of emptiness when they feel like they've been abandoned, because now they don't know who they are in the world.
And so when somebody with this disorder is going through that initial measurement phase with new people and they're idealizing them, they often will take on the identities of those people. So they may mimic them in a lot of ways.
They might mimic the way they dress, their interests, the way they talk. And for this reason, the people around somebody with this disorder kind of from the outside may feel like, wait, I thought you were this way. Now you're advocating for this, and this is your new main interest in life, for the thing you're throwing yourself into all completely. Music tastes might change. Hobbies will change the way they dress."
Dr. Curry (02:28:49)
"... somebody who's really productive, high functioning, successful, and you get to know them and you think they're fantastic because they're so interested in you, too, and you might not realize it, but they're mimicking you perfectly.
So you're really just kind of falling in love with this new friend who is being you.
But then all of a sudden you say something that they think is offensive, and even in your wildest thoughts understand how that could have offended somebody, but their reaction is so strong that you kind of buy into it. Gosh, maybe I did say something offensive and you feel bad about it. So that sophisticated version, they can be a little bit more calculated in the way they present.
They tend to kind of hit you where it hurts a little bit more, and they can be actually very, very destructive.
Borderline Personality and Emotional Reactivity
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:12:33)
"Are you familiar with the term emotional reactivity?"
Dr. Curry (02:12:37)
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:12:38)
"What is that?"
Dr. Curry (02:12:39)
"So emotional reactivity is very common in the diagnosis.
So essentially, like I said, there's instability and emotions.
People with borderline personality disorder are often misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder because they can be up and down. They can look very depressed, then they can look very elated. But these changes are happening within a matter of hours.
Somebody with bipolar disorder, this is a clinical depression lasting days, weeks, a clinical mania where sometimes they even need to be hospitalized because they're so grandiose, they clear out their bank account and go to Vegas and spend it all. They're acting in some very bizarre ways.
With borderline personality disorder, you're having these fluctuating moods constantly. And again, this hypersensitivity to being slighted or feeling offended, really driven by the fear that if you're offended or slighted, if the therapist comes in two minutes late or if somebody shows up to dinner two minutes late, that they might be abandoning you. And it's not as if the borderline is considering themselves abandoned in that moment, but they just know that they have this overwhelming emotion and there are no attempts to control that emotion. There are no attempts to regulate it.
So if they're in the middle of the restaurant and they feel offended, they're going to start the fight. People are going to see it, or they might just start crying or break down, but they'll make a lot of accusations. And that reactivity is when you're going to see a lot of this escalation and the bizarre behavior. They can react violently. They can react aggressively.
. . .
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:31:30)
You mentioned that one of the characteristics of borderline personality disorder is emotional reactivity. How might that present in an intimate relationship?
Dr. Curry (02:31:42)
So I think it probably presents mostly or you'd see the bulk of it in intimate relationships because of that regular interaction and the desire for your partner to meet all of your needs, to be the perfect caretaker.
Also, that the hallmark of the disorder was the splitting. So idealizing, devaluing, and the perceiving of all sorts of neutral events as somehow demeaning or disrespectful.
It's regular escalations of anger, frustrated complaints, criticisms of your partner.
But because the person with borderline personality disorder, first of all, they're more sensitive to things, they feel distress more strongly, and then that distress lasts longer. So these types of blow ups go on forever, and they're very cyclic. It feels like you just can't get a resolution, and eventually the partner will try to leave, will want to leave to take a break, it wears them down. And that's when the borderline might explode and act very aggressively or violently to try to prevent them from leaving.
Amber Heard's Emotional Reactivity
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:16:45)
You were talking about emotional reactivity. What, if any, emotional reactivity? Did you observe in your review, and let's do this one at a time.
Dr. Curry (02:17:03)
There were a couple of indications to me.
First, I can sort of think about it with the treatment records… Dr. Cohen's record. He actually refers to this reactivity quite a bit and to Ms. Heard s temper. And that temper, it's often branded or being hot headed is really characteristic borderline personality disorder, as is their very charming personable nature.
This is a disorder of contradictions.
In Nurse Falati's notes, I thought there was something interesting. She references a night when they're out to dinner, I believe, in London. And she provided positive reinforcement to Ms. Heard because Ms. Heard had been disappointed by a mistake made by the server. And it sort of references how previously she might have criticized the server, become upset by that and that she didn't this time. And so that had been some sort of a step forward. And there was also an indication, actually in Dr. Hughes is a forensic psychologist who had been appointed by Ms. Heard to conduct an evaluation as well.
Dr. Curry (02:18:37)
In Dr. Hughes' interview of Ms. Heard, Ms. Heard disclosed that she had cut her arm in the past, which is a typical reactive type of thing. Somebody with this diagnosis can do. It's one of the symptoms, and that's sort of all I can think of.
Top of my mind from the treatment records moving into some of the declarations or deposition testimony, what struck me was Ms. Raquel Pennington's testimony.
She's a former friend of Ms. Heard and she indicated she told a story about, I suppose they were shopping for Thanksgiving and Couture Month, something to prepare for Thanksgiving. And Ms. Heard struck her in the face sort of out of the blue, which is I thought was interesting because that is one of those signs of borderline personality disorder where if a friend or a loved one isn't meeting your needs in that moment, people with borderline personality disorder can be very caring in their relationships as long as their needs are being met. They feel that their needs should be met when they want them met at a specific level. And if they're not, then that anger, that sense of harm causes them to react.
Dr. Curry (02:19:56)
So the striking Ms. Pennington per Ms. Pennington's report in the declaration or the testimony I thought was pretty consistent. And then Ms. Heard's own self description.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:20:12)
You indicated Ms. Pennington was a former friend.
Dr. Curry (02:20:17)
Who is Raquel Pennington?
Raquel "Rocky" Pennington not being friends with Amber Heard any longer is very significant. They were very close since being teenagers. Rocky lived rent-free at Johnny Depp's expense for years in one of the penthouses next to the one that Johnny and Amber occupied.
Rocky was a big supporter of Amber's during the original DV complaint Amber made against Johnny May 2016.
I explain more about Rocky's role in Amber's accusations in this post:
Borderline Personality and DV
Dr. Curry (02:14:35)
"But also people with borderline personality disorder, it seems to be a predictive factor for women who implement violence against their partner.
And one of the most common tactics that they'll use is actually physically assaulting and then getting harmed themselves. But mostly we call this administrative violence. Essentially, this is saying that they'll make threats using the legal system. So they might say that they are going to file a restraining order or claim abuse, or they might do these things to essentially try to keep their partner from leaving in the moment. [This form of partner abuse is also called legal abuse.]
Again, they're not consciously thinking, I'm going to keep my partner from leaving right now. They're just thinking, I can't stand this. I hate my partner. They went from idealizing to suddenly devaluing because of the hurt. And they'll do anything to express that big emotion of anger.
"They will often physically prevent their partner from trying to leave if their partner wants to get space from all of this intense emotion. And oftentimes they will be abusive to their partners in these situations. Sometimes they'll physically restrain them from leaving and become injured that way.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (07:17)
"Do you know the percentage of women who are victims of IPV, intimate partner violence, or domestic abuse who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorders?"
Dr Curry, Part 2 (07:27)
"I can't tell you the percentage off of the top of my head, but I do know that … women with borderline personality disorder tend to have a higher prevalence of being involved in intimate partner violence, relationships, being the receiver of violence, and being the perpetuators of violence."
"Overall, female criminals appear to exhibit higher rates of borderline personality disorder, and it is oftentimes associated with...perpetration of impulsive and violent crimes, comorbid antisocial traits, and incarceration for domestic violence."
What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:23:47)
Okay. In addition to borderline personality disorder, I understand that you diagnosed another personality disorder.
Dr. Curry (02:23:59)
Histrionic personality disorder. And these are really two sides of the same coin. They belong to the same cluster we call these clusters. It's a way to organize personality disorders in that DSM. And this cluster is described as the personality disorders that are traumatic, erratic, and emotional.
Okay. So unpredictable, but really having to do with emotions and relationships. They're very similar.
Whereas I was saying that Borderline Personality Disorder, a lot of the key features that you're going to notice are instability. When it comes to histrionic, a lot of the key features are going to be drama and shallowness.
Similarly, with Borderline Personality Disorder, there's this underlying drive of avoiding abandonment. With Histrionic Personality Disorder, that underlying drive is to always be the center of attention because if you don't have that attention on you, it feels similarly to Borderline Personality Disorder. You feel pretty empty, like you don't have that sense of being or value.
Whereas Borderline Personality Disorder might have more of the visible reactivity if somebody seems to be leaving. With histrionic personality disorder, what you're going to see is extreme discomfort with not being the center of attention, extreme efforts to be the center of attention.
And when they feel that they're not the center of attention, you will see some strange things making up stories to try to get attention, often taking on a victim or princess role. Those two roles in particular are pretty consistent.
Seeking caretaking. Borderline Personality Disorder is similar because with Borderline Personality Disorder, these shifts of identity and the splitting, you might see somebody go from being in the DSM. It describes it as a needy supplicant of help seeking the perfect caretaker to suddenly being the avenger against injustice or thinking that their partner is a terrible person.
With histrionic, what you'll see is somebody who wants to be the center of attention has sort of that impressionistic speech, very flowery, very enthusiastic, but nothing's really being said the moment your attention wears away because they're so demanding for attention that's when they might take the victim role or the princess role and even make up stories. Sometimes those stories are to bolster the victim role. Sometimes those stories are just to make them look more interesting or accomplished in their mind so that they can get respect and attention that way.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:26:48)
Is there a relation between Histrionic Personality Disorder and attractiveness?
Dr. Curry (02:26:55)
There is strangely. And this is always one of the trickiest things to talk about because how is that a symptom, but characteristically, people with this disorder are very interested in looks, but more importantly, they utilize their looks to get that attention, to get that respect that they're seeking.
And so this type of a personality might be flirtatious with everybody characteristically. They actually couldn't even be subtly. And when I say flirtatious, I'm not talking overtly sexy but kind of inappropriately flattering. Sometimes they act in a kind of a girlish way to be cute into a gender attention. And this will even occur in their therapy relationships as a way to sort of avoid getting negative feedback or criticism. Oftentimes they'll bring the therapist gifts or be distracting if they engage in therapy because they just don't want any criticism. They want the therapist to like them.
I explain more about Histrionic Personality Disorder in this post: What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
How Dr Curry Concluded Amber Doesn’t Have PTSD
Dr. Curry (02:33:26)
So in addition to looking for Miss Heard's general mental status, any psychological issues that were present, I very specifically was assessing to determine whether post traumatic stress disorder was present, and it was not.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:33:41)
How do you know that?
Dr. Curry (02:33:43)
First of all, from multiple information sources.
I was integrating the interview, my review of the data, the case records, other people's testimony, her treatment records, and then I also conducted, in addition to the MMPI two.
And looking at that data, I also conducted the clinician administered PTSD scale, the CAPS-5, which is the gold standard PTSD assessment developed by the National Center for PTSD, shown to be valid, accurate for use not just with service members, but also with civilians, men, women, all genders, and also all ethnicities, and then also specifically for use in a courtroom setting.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:34:30)
How do you conduct the CAPS-5?
Dr. Curry (02:34:33)
The CAPS-5 is a standard interview. What that means is that it's an interview with very clear questions that are scripted, and you ask those same questions every time you test a person. So because you're doing that, you're actually taking something that would typically be kind of subjective, an interview with somebody, and you're making it more objective when you ask the same questions in the same way every time. Somebody is obsessed with this. Now you can apply a scoring protocol and actually score their responses.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:35:09)
As a result of applying those protocols. What did you conclude?
Dr. Curry (02:35:14)
Ms. Heard did not have PTSD, and there were also pretty significant indications that she was grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD when asked about them.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:36:18)
Okay, what, if any, symptoms of PTSD did you observe and misheard?
Dr. Curry (02:36:25)
There are 20 kind core symptoms that somebody might, can, manifest with PTSD. You don't have to have all of them.
Ms. Heard initially said that she had in the first question, you say, do you ever have this before? You get to the more nuanced follow up questions. When I asked that first question on each item, she initially said, yes, I have that to 19 of the 20 symptoms.
That's not typical, even of somebody with the most disabling form of PTSD.
When we eventually sort of dialed it down, she had three remaining symptoms. And having symptoms of any disorder is common for all of us. Some of us struggle with sleep, some of us get anxious. It could be several different disorders. It could just be that you have this struggle in your life.
But she had three specific symptoms that I scored as present off the top of my head. I might miss one, but one was sleep disturbance. So she reported that she has frequent nightmares. Another one was that she said that she tends to have a startle response. So if she gets startled or surprised, she tends to stay in sort of a hyper startle mode for quite a while.
And that's consistent with a couple of things. It can be consistent with PTSD if other criteria are met. It's also consistent with childhood complex trauma, which is something that can occur when your brain is forming. If you constantly feel unsafe, if your parents are abusive, or if they're not present, if you're neglected, you can develop certain physiological responses that can stay for a long time in your life. So I noted that that seems like a very genuine, accurate account where she stays in the state of kind of hyperarousal, has a hard time calming down if she gets surprised.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:38:23)
You mentioned nightmares as well?
Dr. Curry (02:38:25)
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:38:26)
Did she recount for you the nature of the nightmares?
Dr. Curry (02:38:30)
So they were vague. She indicated that she has recurrent nightmares and that she feels as though she's being held down. There was some conflict in that account because even though that could be a PTSD symptom, it is fairly vague. But I still scored it as present. And in her initial treatment with Dr. Bonnie Jacobs, which I believe started before she began dating Mr. Depp, she had indicated to Dr Jacobs, according to Dr. Jacobs' notes, that she was having repetitive nightmares back then and that they were related to her childhood trauma. And so that came up several times in the notes. Dr. Jacobs kept mentioning that.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:41:17)
In addition to your conclusion that Ms. Heard does not have PTSD, did you make a conclusion with respect to her symptoms?
Dr. Curry (02:41:27)
Yes, actually, I did. So 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.
The MMPI-2 is helpful because it shows you kind of everything, any other symptoms, and then Miss Heard's own self report, and her prior treatment records.
I knew that she had reported to me that she had had some other symptoms. So now what becomes really important is determining. And let me clarify one thing here. Not so much a diagnosis, but did she start to experience symptoms during the relationship and after? Did they worsen after, or could these types of symptoms or reports be explained by other factors: A) by Feigning, B) by preexisting conditions, or C) by other stressful life events that might have occurred.
So the main symptoms that I was looking at didn't meet criteria for PTSD.
There was also substantial evidence of this sort of emotional dysregulation, emotional disorganization, the shallowness, the dramatic effects. Now when you have a lot of childhood trauma, you can actually have some similar type presentation in adulthood.
There are some differences, though, but also that's not something that would have occurred after this relationship.
So now I was looking at, are there indications that these types of things that she's described, this transient anxiety, the issues with sleep, were these there prior [to the relationship with Johnny Depp]?
And sure enough, Ms. Heard, in her own self report, stated to me that when she first got to LA, she was seeking treatment for, in her words, blanket anxiety and depression.
She also reported that she was taking medications in general, none of them were helpful. That's actually very typical of borderline personality disorder. Medications typically aren't very helpful for somebody with a disorder. They really need an intensive, lifelong type of therapy, which is not necessarily as relevant to this, but Interestingly, also, people with borderline personality disorder often respond really positively to stimulant medications that are given for Add or ADHD.
And in one of Nurse Falati's notes, she reported that Ms. Heard told her that none of the medications were working for her, except for one provision, which is often prescribed as a stimulant medication. And I just thought that was interesting and sort of consistent with more of these lifelong personality disorders that aren't necessarily caused by a harm by any allegations, but have been there and will remain there typically.
The other issue. So the anxiety she had already indicated that had been there prior, but the form of the anxiety. So looking at Dr. Hughes testing and then also looking at the scores on the MMPI, when you look at all these little combinations of the scores, you can actually learn a lot about is the anxiety related to an event or is this more a person who tends to be an anxious person, regardless of what's going on in their life? And somebody might describe them as a worry wart and the scores, the little combination of scores that she obtained actually indicated that it was the latter, that her anxiety tends to be separate from events and more just kind of a constant and it comes and goes, but it's more of a trait.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:06:54)
Thank you. You were asked about intimacy problems, relationship difficulties associated with IPV, and then said that there were some key differences.
Dr Curry (01:07:08)
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:07:09)
What are those?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:07:10)
So what you see when we're talking about the personality disorders is there is a very consistent pattern of the aggression, the violence, the irritability.
First of all, it's escalated.
But second of all, it occurs when there is either (for the borderline component) a threat of abandonment, a perceived slight feeling like the person is about to leave you, about to walk away to get some space from an argument. It also occurs to a more mild extent, but when there's a loss of attention and a need to manipulate to try to get that attention back.
But when somebody has PTSD, that irritability is sort of at a low, constant level or it's completely random. For instance, you might have a Vietnam vet who went straight to bars for a period to get into fights with the hope that he would kill somebody and just self-destruct.
So it's a very different type of presentation IPV, it might be more irritability, but that's actually less of a symptom for female IPV victims. Usually what you'll see is somatic symptoms [somatic symptoms are physical symptoms], the depression, a lot of fearfulness and anxiety, but typically more complaints about somatic symptoms.
Amber Attempted to Manipulate Results
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:30:08)
What conclusions were you able to draw about Ms. Heard's sophistication from her testing?
Dr. Curry (02:30:16)
Well, from her testing and from her presentation, she was very likable. But her testing in particular showed that she approached it in a manner that I remember I told you about those scales that are pretty neat. She approached it in a manner that very clearly minimized any psychological dysfunction, not just that, but really presented herself as free of any problems. And she did so in a way that was very sophisticated, not obvious by responding to questions that most people might not notice. We're trying to detect that.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:31:01)
How did you determine that?
Dr. Curry (02:31:03)
So that's based on a particular scale on the MMPI-2 that is designed specifically to detect a type of responding that's a little bit more clever, a little bit more sophisticated, minimizing problems in a way that most lay people probably wouldn't understand. And even providers, very difficult to detect.
Dr. Curry (02:35:14)
Ms. Heard did not have PTSD, and there were also pretty significant indications that she was grossly exaggerating symptoms of PTSD. When asked about them.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:35:26)
How did you make that latter conclusion?
Dr. Curry (02:35:28)
So one of the strengths of this test, as I mentioned, the important thing about any test used when you're doing an evaluation in forensics is to make sure that the person is responding accurately. And this test does that by not just asking people whether they have a symptom, but asking follow up questions that draw out very detailed accounts of every single symptom of PTSD. And when you're really familiar with this disorder, which you need to be to administer this test, there are nuances in the way a person will describe their symptoms that have been shown repeatedly to indicate exaggeration or faking. There are also indications when somebody is clearly giving you a genuine response.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:39:18)
Thank you. What is feigning?
Dr. Curry (02:39:27)
Feigning is essentially faking or exaggerating symptoms that aren't present.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:39:35)
Does the CAPS-5 control for that?
Dr. Curry (02:39:38)
It doesn't necessarily control for it. It can expose it by drawing out how does that work. Because you're not just simply handing the person a checklist that says, here are all the symptoms of PTSD. Why don't you just check off the ones you have, which clearly, if you're trying to look like you have PTSD, you would just check them all.
The CAPS-5, because it requires them to describe in detail how they experience the symptom, where it shows up, what it looks like, what sort of examples they can give you, how many times it's happened in the last couple of weeks, how many times it's happened in the last month.
By the end of each symptom, you've gotten a very good picture of a couple of things.
One, does it meet the definition of the symptom? Are they getting it right? Is this actually the symptom, or are they kind of confusing this with something else?
Number two, are they giving you very vague accounts? Are they giving you kind of a stereotyped idea of what the symptom is based on media or movies or something that actually is completely different from genuine experiences of this symptom, or are they giving you a very genuine heartfelt sometimes minimizing, but it's ticking all the boxes, their mannerisms while they're describing it, the actual very specific, very nuanced, symbolic ways they're describing it.
Dr. Curry (02:41:04)
A lot of times it smells, it sounds that all appears in genuine accounts, and it's something that people really get wrong when they're feigning.
On Cross-Examination, Amber’s Attorney Tried to Undermine Dr Currry’s Testimony, But Failed
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:01:03)
Now let's talk for a moment specifically about a couple of the profiles on the MMPI. This is not an exaggerated profile for her, is it?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:01:15)
No. Actually, that was something unique when she completed objective broadband measures. Where the questions, you don't know what the questions are getting at, they seem completely random—she raised scores that indicated that she was trying to minimize any mental issues and appear completely free of pathology. When she took tests that asked questions that were specific to trauma. That's when you'd see these extreme exaggerations.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:01:41)
All right, let's go to page 337 [Referring to Dr Curry’s Deposition transcript.]
My question: on line seven: This is not an exaggerated profile, is it, for her? And your answer under oath at that time was no, it is not an exaggerated profile. Do you see that?
Dr Curry (01:02:26)
Yes. I'm talking about the MSCI here.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:02:28)
You testified under oath at that time, correct?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:02:31)
Yes, that's correct.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:02:32)
Now, the profile is also not consistent with malingering, correct? [Malingering is like “feigning illness” but is a term typically associated specific diagnosis found in the DSM. More on that on re-direct below.]
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:02:39)
The MMPI-2 profile, it's specific to how she approached this test. And you're correct for this test, it was a defensive profile, not an exaggerated profile.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:02:50)
So my question on line ten was this is not a profile consistent with malingering, Correct? And your answer under oath at that time was correct on this test. It is not consistent with malingering, period, right?
Dr Curry (01:03:03)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (01:03:03)
That was your full answer?
Dr. Curry (01:03:05)
Re-Direct Examination, Clarification
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:05:35)
And made reference to the MMPI-2. Is there another test that you did to make a determination with respect to malingering?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:05:46)
Yes. Malingering is a term that most psychologists, we try to be careful of it because it indicates an intent for secondary gain. I prefer Feigning, which you had brought up earlier, because it indicates that somebody is intentionally exaggerating, but I don't know necessarily why. So I think that's a more accurate term in general.
On the MMPI-2, yes. There was no exaggerated profile.
I also gave her the CAPS-5. I don't know if you'll remember, but that is the clinician administered PTSD scale consistent with the DSM -5. And on that there were signs of gross exaggeration.
I also looked at the test results that were provided by Dr. Hughes.
And on an objective test of trauma, there is a scale specific to intentional exaggeration on that test. And Ms. Heard was in the 98th percentile meaning that she had engaged in extreme levels of exaggeration.
How Targets of False Accusations of Abuse Feel
Amber Heard attempts to undermine Dr Curry's evaluation by insinuating that the test results were distorted because Amber is the victim of DV, but instead, what follows is a very good description of what a lot of falsely-accused abused men go through. It seems to describe what Johnny Depp has been dealing with for the last 6 years since Amber very publicly accused him of DV.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (55:06)
It's common for the perpetrator to essentially gaslight the victim, isn't it?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (55:18)
That's a characteristic of psychological abuse, yes.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (55:21)
Okay. And it's common then for them to accuse them with being the perpetrator, the victim.
Dr Curry, Part 2 (55:27)
That's a characteristic of abuse from women perpetrated against men. It's actually very common. About 90% of male victims of IPV have reported that a female partner who abuses them makes threats to report their partner as an abuser. It's less common for men to make that statement to female partners just because there's less potential consequence.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:02)
Okay. And it's distressing for the victim to be accused, is it not?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (56:07)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:08)
It causes them a lot of fear, certainly. And it causes them a lot of distress?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (56:15)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:16)
And in fact, they feel falsely accused, correct?
Dr. Curry (56:21)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:21)
And they feel paranoid.
Dr Curry, Part 2 (56:23)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:23)
And they feel frightened.
Dr. Curry (56:25)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:26)
Afraid that everyone's going to believe the perpetrator, correct?
Dr. Curry (56:29)
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:30)
And in fact, they're afraid they're going to lose their security. Correct.
Dr Curry, Part 2 (56:34)
Can you clarify what you mean by security?
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (56:36)
I'll ask the next one and they're afraid they're going to lose their reputation, correct?
Dr Curry, Part 2
Is it Abusive Jealously or Normal Suspicion?
Amber Heard's attorneys spend a lot of time painting Johnny Depp as a jealous abuser.
But suspicion based on reality is not an abusive behavior. It is a normal behavior.
People who are doing things behind their partner's back will often gaslight their partner with denials and try to redirect their partner away from the truth by accusing them of overreacting.
There is a lot of information in the public domain supporting infidelity on Amber's part during Amber and Johnny's short marriage.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (48:43)
Okay. Let me go to perpetrators. Would you agree that accusations of infidelity can be considered one of the characteristics of a personality perpetrator of IPV?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (49:00)
It can be a characteristic of a lot of things. It is something that can be weaponized if somebody is trying to or is having rage toward their partner.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (50:03)
Okay. And interrogating your partner about unfounded accusations of infidelity can be abusive. Would you agree?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (50:12)
It can be if they're unfounded.
Alcohol Use and Partner Abuse
Amber's attorney's have been attacking Johnny's drug and alcohol use over and over. He freely admits that he drinks alcohol, has used drugs, and had a dependency on pain meds after receiving them for a dental issue. He detoxed from the opioids in the early part of his relationship with Amber.
Amber minimizes her own use of drugs and alcohol and weaponizes Johnny's use to color him as an abuser.
Alcohol abuse and drugs that ramp you up, can contribute to abusive behavior, and I would always want to ask clients in volatile relationships questions about substance use.
But the relationship of substance use and partner abuse is a two-way street. Substance use can not only potential contribute to partner abuse, it can be a coping mechanism for the abused partner.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (53:23)
And a large portion of IPV perpetrators have substance abuse issues.
Dr Curry, Part 2 (53:30)
It's one of many factors that correlates with intimate partner violence. But there are certainly many people who perpetuate intimate partner violence who do not have substance abuse issues.
Why Therapists Don’t Know Whether Abuse Accusations are True
After Dr Curry presented her findings through testimony based on questioning from Johnny's attorney, Amber's attorney questioned her during the cross-examination phase of testimony.
The following interaction with Johnny's attorney happened during the redirect examination phase that followed cross-examination.
JD's Attorney, Dennison, Part 2 (01:08:23)
You testified that some of the professionals involved in this case had to take their patient at her word. What did you mean by that?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:08:34)
So when you're providing therapy, you're in a very different role than an examiner.
When you're the forensic examiner, you're just really looking at data to make a decision. [Note: I provide Dr Curry's testimony describing details of her testing methods later in this post.]
When you're a therapist, you're an advocate for your clients wellbeing.
And in fact, it's considered extremely unethical for a treating provider to ever provide opinion testimony like I'm providing, because it's so well known in our field that you're going to have an automatic bias for your client. It's almost a sense of protection, advocacy, wanting their best.
Which is why we also know that it's very inappropriate to convey any sort of opinion about whether a crime occurred, whether abuse occurred. We can certainly believe our clients. We can support them in their therapy and take them at their word. But when giving opinions and consultations, we have to be very cautious and really only provide the facts.
We would state things in terms of my client did report this. I saw this. Here was our treatment plan. Here was the diagnosis. We're taught. We're trained to stay away from making any sort of opinions, understanding that most of the time. And most of Ms. Heard's providers were just treating Ms. Heard.
They had never so much as done an initial interview with Mr. Depp and gotten his whole life story or his symptoms or his side of any of it. And they're going to be advocating, and the treatment relationship is about helping your client achieve wellbeing, not making formal psychological or psychiatric opinions.
JD's Attorney, Dennison, Part 2 (01:10:12)
So you're asked question about a series of doctors.
Dr. Cohen. Treating physician?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:10:18)
Yes. He was a psychologist.
JD's Attorney, Dennison, Part 2 (01:10:20)
Dr. Banks. Treating physician?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:10:22)
JD's Attorney, Dennison, Part 2 (01:10:25)
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:10:26)
Yes. Treating psychologist.
JD's Attorney, Dennison, Part 2 (01:10:29)
Every one of them had to take Amber heard it as word, right?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (01:10:33)
Dr Anderson, mentioned during this redirect, is the marriage counselor who testified a few days prior to Dr Curry, click here for a transcript and analysis of Johnny and Amber's marriage counselor's testimony.
Dr Curry's Muffins, Muffingate
While I had watched most of Dr. Curry’s testimony live, I missed a small portion and didn’t catch anything about “muffins.” So when I created the transcription I was eager to find out why so many people were talking about Dr Curry and muffins.
Dr Curry's testimony was damaging to Amber's case and Amber’s attorney thought she was going to have a gotcha moment with Dr Curry about muffins but it didn’t turn out that way.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (22:26)
You were, in fact, so excited about being involved in this case that you told your husband, even though this was a highly confidential matter, that you were going to be conducting the examination of Ms. Heard, didn't you?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (22:39)
That is not accurate.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (22:41)
You not only told your husband, but you told Ms. Heard that you told your husband, correct?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (22:46)
Ms. Brettohoff, that is not accurate.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (22:48)
What is accurate?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (22:51)
You're incorrect. That is not correct.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (22:53)
Is your testimony today under oath that you did not tell your husband that you were going to be conducting the examination of Amber?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (22:58)
That is my testimony.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (23:16)
Okay. Let’s go to page 306 [Bredehoft is referring to a transcript of Dr Curry's deposition.] So the question that was asked was because you brought muffins, you said from your husband. Right? And you gave those to Ms. Heard. Correct?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (23:51)
May I clarify what occurred so that we can stop talking about the muffins? What happened was that I was getting ready that morning. I frequently bring muffins to the office. My husband did happen to know that there was going to be a celebrity client coming in because on the mornings that that occurs, which often occurs, we have to actually clear the office and move the staff to the other office.
So, yes. On the one hand. He was aware of that.
I was getting ready. I asked him to go to the bakery near our house and pick up the muffins for me because I was running late. He often has to do that because I often do run late. He brought the muffins back to the house. I brought them into the office. Ms. Heard and I enjoyed the muffins together. I think I made a comment to her along the lines like, we can thank my husband. My husband got these for us today, meaning he purchased the muffins. We are now enjoying them because of him.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (26:12)
So why did your husband get the muffins for Amber Heard?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (26:16)
He did not get the muffins for Amber Heard.
AH’s Attorney, Bredehoft, Part 2 (26:22)
He knew you had a high profile client and you were preparing for a very long time. And you asked him to pick up the muffins? Correct?
Dr Curry, Part 2 (26:31)
I asked him to pick up the muffins for me, yes.
The Basis of Dr Curry’s Evaluation of Amber Heard
Dr Curry's research into Amber's mental health was very extensive. She reviewed documents and records pertaining to Amber's mental health and met with her for 12 hours of interviews and testing.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:32:11)
How did you conclude that Ms Heard suffers from the personality disorders that you identified?
Dr. Curry (01:32:17)
So there was information that supported it from multiple sources. I conducted testing, including one of the main tests that I used. She obtained scores that were consistent with those diagnoses. And then also there was evidence of those diagnoses in her records and in her self-report.
Review of Documents
Dr. Curry (01:23:48)
So I reviewed quite a few documents as part of my evaluation that included all of the case documents.
Ms. Heard's medical records by Dr. Kipper, her prior mental health treatment records, I believe.
I reviewed records from Dr. Amy Banks, Dr. Bonnie Jacobs, and also a significant portion of my review involved notes from nurse Aaron Filati at the time, Erin Boram, who spent a significant time with Ms. Heard and her direct company.
I also reviewed exhibits, quite a few audio recordings, a video recording. Several video recordings are possibly photographs. I might be getting them confused and multiple witness statements.
Met With Amber for 12 Hours
Dr. Curry (01:24:48)
In conducting my evaluation, I met with Ms. Heard on two separate dates, December 10 and December 17, 2021.
So the evaluation, we spent 12 hours directly with one another. However, there were more hours involved in the evaluation with some breaks. So we spent 7 hours together on the first day, December 10, not necessarily together because there was a 1 hour lunch break and about a half hour with break split up through the day. And then on the 17th, we spent a little more than 8 hours in the evaluation from start to finish with a 1 hour break and another half hour of breaks distributed throughout the day.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:30:32)
So what's your clinical interview?
Dr. Curry (01:30:34)
A clinical interview is a very comprehensive interview. It includes a person's entire life history as well as very specifically looks at any symptoms they might have.
This can start as far back as birth. You might find out if there were any issues with their delivery, any genetic issues, any intellectual issues. What was their home life like? How was discipline handled? What's their relationship with their primary caregivers? Were they raised by an aunt and uncle? Their parents? How many siblings do they have? How did they get along with their siblings? How many times did they have to move? Was there any abuse? Did they have any really significant life experiences that come to mind when they think about their childhood? How were they as a student? Did they need special services?
Did they get in trouble at school? And you do this, you continue on high school. What were their hobbies? Did they play sports? How many friends did they have? Did they have any trouble keeping those friendships?
Then you get into adulthood. Did they go to College? Did they not go to College? How come? What sort of jobs have they held? How did those jobs go? How did they end? That's always an important question.
What sort of romantic relationships have they been involved in? How do they identify sexually culturally?
What sort of symptoms have they experienced? You go through the entire gamut of some of the main symptoms. You might screen for depression, any disorganized thinking that means thinking that isn't necessarily in touch with reality and any current distress they may be having today.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:53:49)
Dr. Curry, before the break, you were talking about some of the factors that you considered in determining Miss Heard suffers from personality disorders, and one of them, I think the last one you said before you left was self report. What do you mean by that?
Dr. Curry (01:54:08)
So the self report would be things that Ms. Hurt indicated to me specifically.
So there were a couple of characteristics that she noted in her self report that were consistent with these personality disorders.
The first was actually my own behavioral observations of her based on her self report. One of the hallmark characteristics of histrionic personality disorder is sort of an overly dramatic presentation. We call this impressionistic speech. So it tends to be very flowery. It uses a lot of descriptive words like magical, wonderful, and it can go on for quite some time, and yet it really lacks any substance. So at the end, you're left wondering what was just said or what the answer is to the actual question.
So that occurred a number of times. And it also represented the quick shifts you'll see between emotions. So she would suddenly be one way and then she would become very animated or very sad. And when people are displaying these emotions. With this personality 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 and also the lack of substance they don't really refer to I feel this way. They might describe emotions, they might describe events, but very rarely. And I Miss Heard did not say I feel vulnerable. She never really indicated a vulnerable feeling of her own then the substance of her self-report. So when I was asking her information about her history.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:56:02)
We're going to ask more about that later. I was just trying to get a sense of what a self-report was.
Dr. Curry (01:56:07)
What Psychological Tests Were Performed
JD's Attorney, Dennison (01:56:09)
What psychological tests did you perform?
Dr. Curry (01:56:12)
I'll just go in order.
So first of all, I asked her a couple of questions from something called the Mini Mental Status Exam. That's really just a fancy way of saying that I wanted to make sure that she was alert and oriented to we call it person place and time. That means she knew who she was, she knew who I was, she knew where we were, and she knew the date. That way I can ensure that she's able to participate in the evaluation and understand what's happening.
I then administered something called the Minnesota Multi Phasic Personality Inventory Two. The two means that it's the second edition, and this is something we call an objective measure. So it asks 567 questions, more statements, and the person either agrees or disagrees with them how much the statement represents them. And this test has been around since 1943. There are more than 10,000 studies showing that it is appropriate for determining somebody's personality traits. It measures all of those things. I sort of mentioned how person thinks, feels, and behaves in multiple different aspects of their lives. It also measures very accurately any signs of mental illness or dysfunction.
And the reason I also really like this test. Whenever you're using a test for an evaluation that's going to be used in a forensic setting, people have a lot of incentive to present themselves in a way that's going to benefit their case. And they may want to look like they're sicker than they really are. They may want to look much healthier than they really are. And some of those incentives, they may not even realize that they're intending to do that. So it can be conscious, conscious or unconscious, but you really need to have a test that can check for that. And the MMPI two has a set of validity scales. We call them. These are scales that measure really the truthfulness and accuracy with which a person is approaching the test. And these scales on this particular test have been so well researched over many decades that they've become very nuanced. And they can tell us a lot about if somebody's, for instance, exaggerating, are they elevating one of the scales that shows that they're exaggerating on purpose? Are they exaggerating in a manner that's more like a cry for help? Are they exaggerating in a manner that's clever and sophisticated or more obvious?
And then the same exact thing goes for trying to minimize symptoms. We have a number of scales that can show us all the different if somebody's trying to say they're the most wonderful person on earth or if they're just trying to deny problems and if they're doing that, again in a very clever way or more of an obvious way. So that test was my choice for this case.
There's one other reason I'd like to add is that part of my evaluation. One of the reasons was to assess whether Ms. Heard has post traumatic stress disorder, which I told you about earlier as a result of the incidents that she's alleged occurred by Mr. Depp. And that's a really tough disorder to find out if somebody is faking it or not. It's one of the most easily faked disorders. Most of us know what it feels like to feel anxious. And a lot of people have seen war movies and movies that depict somebody having PTSD. In fact, some research has shown that if you give someone a diagnostic checklist and said show that you have PTSD, they can do it 96% of the time, just someone on the street.
So you really need a test that's very sensitive to that. And the MMPI-2 has been shown in multiple studies to be excellent at detecting those attempts.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:00:02)
Okay. You keep using MMPI-2. That's the abbreviation that you folks use for I'm sorry if I hadn't said that.
Dr. Curry (02:00:11)
That's the Minnesota Multi Phasic Personality Inventory.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:00:16)
What other psychological testing did you perform?
Dr. Curry (02:00:20)
So I also performed the clinician administered PTSD Scale Five, and that five links it to the diagnosis for PTSD in our current diagnostic manual, the fifth version, to do that test, you first administer something called the Life Events Checklist and the Life Events Checklist.
Both of these tests, by the way, were developed by the National Center for PTSD with the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the Life Events Checklist lists 16 different very stressful life events that people can go through that are often can be associated with developing PTSD. And then it also has a 17th item that you can fill in if you feel like you've been through something really difficult that wasn't included.
Now I like to also add something called the Life Events Checklist Five interview, which digs a little bit deeper into the person's childhood as well to find out there's so many different things that can be difficult growing up. And also it's very important that you have the person determine which of the events they've listed. Let's say they have a number of different types of traumas. Which one do they feel like was the most traumatic for them, which one still causes them to feel distressed when they talk about it, and sometimes they can't just identify one, and then that leads to your next decision.
So if they have multiple different, similar types of events, like seeing combat, then you might use that as the worst one, the multiple similar. So that looks like you describe an anchor, we call it to do the testing, and we would maybe describe the anchor as the worst of my combat experience. Okay. Now somebody had multiple different traumas from different times in their life, like childhood abuse, and then went to combat and had some horrible things happen there. You would do the clinician administered PTSD scale test, the one that comes after you do one for the childhood event and a separate one for the adulthood event.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:02:31)
Does this clinician administered PTSD scale have handy abbreviation?
Dr. Curry (02:02:37)
It does. We'll call it the CAPS-5, but that's actually what it goes by.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:02:41)
Okay. How common is the use of the MMPI-2 in your profession?
Dr. Curry (02:02:52)
The MMPI-2 is actually the most commonly used assessment worldwide by mental health professionals and in forensic settings for the court.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:03:02)
Why did you use it?
Dr. Curry (02:03:03)
I used it for that purpose and for its excellent validity in those settings, across genders, across ethnicities, for different reasons. And when I keep saying validity, by the way, what I mean is accuracy, and I'll try to work that in. But then also for detecting the accuracy with which a person reports PTSD.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:03:31)
Does that make use of a scale in some way?
Dr. Curry (02:03:34)
The MMPI-2, do you mean specifically for PTSD?
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:03:37)
Dr. Curry (02:03:38)
There's actually a combination of scales you want to look for. You would never make the diagnosis just based on one scale alone or even on the test alone. You'd integrate other data.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:03:49)
How did you administer the MMPI-2 to Miss Heard?
Dr. Curry (02:03:55)
I provided her the test on an iPad. She essentially had her own little desk area and then an iPad. She hit Start. It provides her with the instructions, and then it gives her 567 statements in order for each one she taps. True or false.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:04:12)
What did you learn about Miss Heard from the results of the MMPI-2?
Dr. Curry (02:04:17)
Quite a bit. I wrote up a 25 page interpretation outline.
It has numerous scales. So one of the reasons I like this measure so much is that it can tell you so much about multiple different traits and tendencies and mental issues.
One of the primary things I learned was that she had a very sophisticated way of minimizing any personal problems. I also learned that she tends to well, there were a number of characteristics that were consistent with the eventual diagnoses, but some of the primary characteristics and I'm going to try to condense 25 pages here were essentially externalization of blame, tending to have a lot of inner hostility. That is attempted to be controlled, a tendency to be very self-righteous, but to also deny that self-righteousness and to judge others critically against these sort of high standards for moral value, but also to deny doing that essentially to claim that one is very nonjudgmental and accepting and yet very full of rage, really. And these aren't facts, but her scores essentially correlate it. So they were consistent with other people who obtain these scores, who have been shown through many studies to have these very specific traits.
So externalization of blame, a lot of inner anger and hostility. Sometimes that anger. Among these groups with similar scores, these people might have that anger kind of explode out at times. They tend to be very passive aggressive. They may be self-indulgent, very self-centered. They could use manipulation tactics to try to get their needs met. Very needy of attention, acceptance, approval. They tend to distance people who are close to them initially. They may seem very charming. They're very socially sophisticated.
Actually, that was a major component on there. They have a capacity to kind of offer some of their faults, but only the ones that people think of lightly and can all relate to. And so they can present as very fair and balanced. But in actuality, they really might be very judgmental of others and unaware of problems in their behavior and their thinking.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:07:03)
So after you provide the examination by the iPad, what do you do?
Dr. Curry (02:07:10)
So once they've completed the test, you can have it scored by the computer immediately. It's a very, very complex test to interpret, but right away you get a list of what's called critical items. And these are just a couple of the items, the statements that are presented that are more clearly symptom based.
And I always follow up with the examiner. Some of these might have to do with suicide. Some of them might have to do with other symptoms that you just like to get a little bit more information on, because sometimes an examiner might tell you they're completely fine when you're doing your interview with them and that they have no symptoms. And then when they take the test, it says that they're having trouble sleeping or they struggle with nausea all the time, or they feel very anxious. And so you want to follow up on that.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:08:00)
Okay. What's a code type?
Dr. Curry (02:08:03)
A code type. Let me think of how to explain this very, very simply. So the main scales and I keep referring to scales. These are just the main scores that come up on this test. We can refer to them as codes.
And when I was saying that Ms. Heard's scores could be compared to certain groups of people that had been researched before to obtain similar scores, the research has shown that certain people will have certain scores. That kind of spike on us. Okay. And so all of those traits that I was describing, those are traits that are found in these code types. So it means that number two score number two was high and score number six was high. And so if we have those two scores were both high, then that's a two six code type. And these code type.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:08:58)
What code type was Ms. Heard?
Dr. Curry (02:09:00)
Ms. Heard had the clearest code type was, but then she also had some other code types that were less significant.
JD's Attorney, Dennison (02:09:10)
What characteristics are associated with.
Dr. Curry (02:09:17)
A three six code type?
A lot of that anger is expressed in this code type. There can be actually a lot of cruelty, usually with people who are less powerful. Actually, when you see this code type, you want to, if you can, to follow up with subordinates, coworkers, people who may have observed their behavior more closely.
The three six 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. A lot of suppressed and denied anger, but the anger is very present, will explode out and a lot of issues in their close relationships.
Trial Testimony from Other Psychologists
I transcribed and analyzed the testimony of all three psychologists who testified in the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard defamation trial. To learn more, click on the links below:
- Transcript and Analysis of testimony from Dr Laurel Anderson, the couple's marriage counselor
- Transcript and Analysis of testimony from Dr Dawn Hughes, DV specialist hired by Amber Heard
Books About Partner Abuse
I have written several books about partner abuse trying to fill voids created by the prevalent view that partner abuse is a male-to-female thing.
My books address all 7 forms of partner abuse (verbal, physical, sexual, financial, legal, spiritual, and psychological/emotional) in relationships that represent all gender configurations.
- Ann Silvers