Psychiatrist who said Johnny Depp exhibited 'narcissistic' traits on the stand says he has 'emotional concussion' from trial backlash

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An expert witness in the defamation trial against Amber Heard by her ex-husband Johnny Depp is speaking out about the backlash he received as a result of testifying.

Dr. David R. Spiegel, a psychiatrist who testified that the Pirates of the Caribbean star exhibited “narcissistic traits” on the stand, penned an essay for Newsweek in which he spoke about the “stunning” personal attacks that came following his testimony. He shared that in addition to receiving “vile” comments on YouTube videos of his testimony and “four or five charming editorials” of his work to his email, his WebMD page was flooded with negative comments.

Dr. David Spiegel testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 23, 2022. - US actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a
Dr. David Spiegel testified that Johnny Depp exhibited “narcissistic traits” on the stand. (Photo by Steve Helber / POOL / AFP)

“I'm an adult, it's not the first time I've been criticized, but never like that,” he wrote. “On that Monday and Tuesday I had what I'd describe as an emotional concussion. It wasn't physical, I didn't get hit on the head, it was emotional because the feedback afterwards left me a little on the numb and dazed side.”

Spiegel, who is currently the subject of a Change.org petition to have him removed from psychiatry organizations due to what the authors claim was unethical behavior on the stand, also called out Depp and Heard for not speaking to their supporters about these kinds of messages.

“If I had groupies and I saw them attacking and harassing someone they don't know, I would have said what I said during the trial; that there are ways to express dissatisfaction, and then there are ways not to,” he noted. “I think when Mr. Depp first noticed this behavior from his fans, he should have re-directed their emotions. While I still feel this intervention would be welcomed, his fans may be ‘disarmed’ by the verdict in his favor. Though since the verdict, I have received a piece of derogatory mail to my professional address and one rude phone call that was fielded by my staff.”

Depp brought defamation charges against Heard following her 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change.” Though Heard did not mention Depp by name, the former couple’s public divorce pointed to Depp as the subject. The Sweeney Todd star claimed that the article cost him acting work.

Ultimately, the jury agreed that Depp was defamed in the piece, and he was awarded $15 million. That includes $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million punitive. (As punitive damages in Virginia are capped at $350,000, the judge reduced the amount to $10.35 million in total.)

In a statement posted on Instagram following the verdict, he said, “False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career. And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”

Heard also won $2 million in compensatory damages. In her own statement, she shared she was “heartbroken” by the results of the trial.

“It is a setback," said the Aquaman actress, who plans to appeal the decision. "It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."

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