Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp Trial Raises Question: Is Histrionic Personality Disorder a Disability?

The recent defamation trial between former Hollywood couple Amber Heard and Johnny Depp generated high profile headlines, as well as a great deal of online controversy. While the discourse around Depp’s $50 million lawsuit was, and is, quite contentious, the trial did manage to raise several complicated legal questions. One that stands out in particular is Heard’s evaluation and diagnosis of a little understood psychological condition: Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined as a mental health condition marked by intense, volatile emotional states as well as a distorted self-image. The term “histrionic” refers to behaviour that is overly theatrical, or melodramatic, and according to the Cleveland Clinic this disorder tends to be diagnosed more often in women. Persons experiencing histrionic personality disorder will often find their self esteem tied quite closely to approval from other people, as opposed to coming from an inherent feeling of self-worth.

Individuals with HPD will often be described as having a consistent and overriding desire to be noticed, and will often act out or behave erratically to bring attention to themselves. People with histrionic personality disorder will generally have little awareness that their behaviour or way of thinking is problematic. Psychiatric professionals remind us that HPD is a serious disorder, and that the label should not be used unless one has been extensively evaluated by a licensed mental health expert.

During the trial, Depp’s legal team presented testimony from clinical and forensic psychologist Shannon Curry, PsyD. Curry carried out an extensive psychological evaluation of Amber Heard, meeting with and observing her for 12 hours. From this evaluation, Curry testified in court that Heard experiences histrionic personality disorder, as well as the often-related borderline personality disorder. It is worth noting that Heard herself rejects this diagnosis, instead insisting that she experiences post traumatic stress disorder.

As histrionic personality disorder – a fairly uncommon mental health diagnosis – was discussed in tabloid coverage of the trial, many found themselves looking for information on how it is diagnosed, treated, and how HPD could affect disability claims and benefits. Canada’s federal government does classify histrionic personality disorder as a disability, as well as several other personality disorders (including antisocial, dependant, and obsessive compulsive). As well, disability support for HPD is offered under the Canadian Disability Tax Credit.

Histrionic personality disorder is a psychiatric disorder, though regarding disability claims the actual condition or diagnosis is often less important than having symptoms that make it so that you cannot work. Due to the fact that serious mental health conditions are often stigmatised in workplaces, disability benefits/claims can frequently end up denied by insurance companies and employers as a result.

One aspect of histrionic personality disorder that may impact long or short term disability insurance claims is the relative rarity of the diagnosis. Researchers estimate that less than 1% of the general population experiences unique medical conditions like histrionic personality disorder.

Personality disorders, including HPD, are among the least understood mental health conditions, which makes obtaining objective proof difficult. Some factors that have been shown to influence histrionic or other personality disorders include genetics, childhood trauma, or overly-indulgent parenting styles. While individuals with histrionic personality disorder are typically unlikely to seek out medical treatment, research has shown that several different types of talk therapy can have a positive result, namely group therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Though the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp trial remains a lightning rod for online debate, hopefully the details of the case can lead to a broader, informed, and responsible discussion of mental health issues.

If you have had your claim for long term disability denied, contact the long term disability insurance lawyers at Share Lawyers. Our 35+ years of experience in long term disability (LTD) law can help you win your case against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and other insurance companies. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless you win your case. Join us on Facebook and become a Top Fan for a chance to win each month.

Denied your long term disability claim?

Contact Share Lawyers today and put our experience to work for you. Our 35+ years of experience can help you win your case against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and other insurance companies. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless you win your case. Join us on Facebook and become a Top Fan for a chance to win each month.


A note from our long term disability lawyers

Taking a medical leave from work is not an easy decision to make. Concerns about providing for yourself and your family and keeping your job may cause you to want to push through your pain, but this won’t make your problems go away. Stopping work is often the smartest decision for your long term health and well-being, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.

If you have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits, you may feel overwhelmed by the process and have questions that your employer and your insurance company are not able or willing to answer. Share is There to see you through and answer your questions.

Our Disability law firm knows what you have been going through

We understand that things have not been easy for you over the last little while. Your health has been suffering, you are unable to work, and now your insurance company, who was supposed to be there in your time of need, has decided they will not pay your disability benefits or respect your disability claim. These benefits exist to provide you with the financial support you need so that you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. It is unfortunate that your insurance company has not lived up to its promise. If your disability claim has been denied, we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to. Our disability lawyers have helped thousands of Canadians get their long term disability benefits over the past 35 years, and we can help you too.

Our experienced disability lawyers can fight back on your behalf

Share Lawyers believes that every client who is dealing with a disability claim deserves superior personal service. To achieve that goal, we have developed our team of experienced, compassionate, and caring long term disability lawyers, law clerks, and administrative staff to meet all of your needs. Our team of experienced long term disability, life insurance, employment, and critical illness insurance lawyers have made successful claims against many insurance companies, third-party administrators and employers.

If you are unable to work, your disability benefits should be there to provide you with the financial support you need. While your insurance company may be focused on finding ways to avoid paying your claim, our focus is on what is in your best interest. When Share Lawyers gets involved, you have an entire team of lawyers that are there to support you and to fight for what is yours.

Our disability claim lawyers fight for your disability insurance claim by relying on our many years of experience to apply the best strategic planning and approach in each case, using the latest technology available. Experience matters, and with Share Lawyers, you are in the best hands with 35 years of success on your side.

In this video, we explain the role of a long term disability lawyer and how we can support you when you have been denied your long term disability benefits.

We’re here to support you during this difficult time

How can we help?