Who is Dr David Spiegel? Shrink links Johnny Depp's behavior to 'intimate partner violence'

Dr David Spiegel took the stand during the defamation trial on Monday and offered damning testimony about Depp’s mental state


                            Who is Dr David Spiegel? Shrink links Johnny Depp's behavior to 'intimate partner violence'
Dr David Spiegel (L) testified that Johnny Depp's (R) behavior was 'consistent' with that of a 'perpetrator of intimate partner violence' (Twitter)
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A psychiatrist brought in as an expert witness by Amber Heard's defense team has testified in court that Johnny Depp displayed behavior that is "consistent" with someone who is a "perpetrator of intimate partner violence."

Dr David Spiegel was questioned by Heard's lawyer Elaine Bredehoft to favor their arguments against Depp with the psychiatrist's assessment of the actor. The doctor's opinion elicited several objections from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star's legal team, who later grilled him about his experience on the topic of his claims against the actor. Heard, 36, is battling a $50 million defamation lawsuit brought on by her ex-husband Depp, 58, who claims she painted him as a domestic abuser in a 2018 op-ed that damaged his acting career.

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Who is Dr David Spiegel?

Dr David Spiegel is a Virginia-based board-certified psychiatrist who has been called in as an expert witness for Heard's team. The doctor claims to have treated thousands of patients, 75 per cent of whom had substance abuse issues. Meanwhile, he also claims to have a wealth of experience treating victims of intimate partner violence. Spiegel is currently a professor at East Virginia Medical School (EVMS), which he joined in 2001 after a decade of private practice as a psychiatrist. 

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According to his profile on the EVMS website, Spiegel completed his psychiatry residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Hershey-Penn State after he received his medical degree from the SUNY-Health Science Center in Brooklyn. His areas of interest include "behavioral treatments for geriatrics and the interface between cognitive therapy and psychopharmacology for anxiety and mood disorders." The psychiatrist holds multiple certifications, including a diploma from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology/Psychiatry. He was also the recipient of the Virginia Livings' Top Doctor award in 2018.

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Dr David Spiegel took the stand during the former couple’s defamation trial on Monday and offered damning testimony about Depp’s mental state. “Mr. Depp has behaviors that are consistent with someone that has substance use disorder as well as behaviors of someone who is a perpetrator of intimate partner violence," he alleged. Intimate Partner Violence or IPV refers to abuse within a romantic relationship which can include outbursts of violence and aggression toward current and former spouses. According to the CDC, the violence can be physical, sexual, or psychological in nature.

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Spiegel admitted that he hadn't interviewed Depp directly as his requests to do so were denied by the actor's lawyers. He drew his conclusions instead by reviewing Depp's depositions and other materials in the case, noting he saw multiple signs of impairment from excessive use of drugs and alcohol. When asked if he thought Depp's substance abuse had affected his ability to act, Spiegel said he had "read" somewhere that Depp used an earpiece to be "fed lines" and that he did a movie "entirely wasted".

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Furthermore, the psychiatrist said that he believes Depp’s “thinking rate” is down and that his attention and memory are impaired. He added that drugs and alcohol “will make us disinhibited and will make us act out in a lot of different ways," including “intimate partner violence." He explained, “We all get angry with people ... But when our brain is functioning well, we don’t act it out. When we have the effects of alcohol, we have disinhibition ... so we can no longer interpret what’s in front of you, what’s right and wrong, what we should act on and what we shouldn’t act on.”

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Spiegel added that combining substance abuse with intimate partner violence was tantamount to "playing with fire." His remarks came during a tense cross-examination with Depp's lawyer Wayne Dennison, who sparred with the medical professional over the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule, which explicitly states that psychiatrists should refrain from giving professional opinions about public figures they haven't examined in person.

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