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Who is Dr David Spiegel? Amber Heard witness specialises in treating abuse victims

Bruno Cooke May 23, 2022
dr david spiegel amber heard
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Amber Heard’s legal team called psychiatrist David Spiegel to the stand as a defence witness on Monday (23 May 2022) – Johnny Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation because of an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in 2018. Heard is countersuing. What do we know about Dr David Spiegel’s area of expertise, his connection to the case, and his career to date?

Who is Dr David Spiegel? Psychiatrist called to testify in ongoing Amber Heard Johnny Depp defamation case

Dr David R Spiegel MD is a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Duke University, he attended the State University of New York’s Health Science Centre in Brooklyn, where he earned his medical degree.

It was while studying in New York that Spiegel developed his interest in cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders – per his professional biography on the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) website.

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He then completed his psychiatry residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Hershey-Penn State. 

Dr Spiegel joined EVMS 21 years ago, in 2001, after several years in private practice. He has since published numerous academic articles on anxiety disorders and psychological ailments such as schizophrenia, peripartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis, paramnesia, as well as patients who have suffered sexual or child abuse.

Where is he based?

Dr David Spiegel’s practice is in Norfolk, Virginia. It’s about 200 miles south of Fairfax, where the Depp Heard case is taking place.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, a majority of Dr Spiegel’s patients have substance abuse problems. He has apparently treated “thousands” of patients.

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Dr Spiegel said in his testimony (per Newsweek) that he has studied the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, and the causes and effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) during his career.

Half of his patients suffer from trauma, and between a quarter and a fifth of those suffer from IPV. 

According to court documents relating to previous legal proceedings between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, Dr David Spiegel is a board-certificated psychiatrist licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine, and “in good standing”.

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What did Dr David Spiegel say during his testimony for the Amber Heard Johnny Depp defamation case?

Dr Spiegel took the stand today (23 May 2022). Heard’s team called him up.

He testified as follows (per the Daily Mail): “Mr Depp has behaviours that are consistent with someone that both has substance use disorder as well as behaviours of someone who is a perpetrator of intimate partner violence.”

Dr Spiegel also said he was “not here to impeach Mr Depp’s acting skills or his persona. He has way greater skills than I do in that.”

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Stranger Things 4 | Volume 1 Final Trailer | Netflix

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Nevertheless, he said, for a man of his age, Depp showed an “unusual” inability to complete memory tests. 

Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard for defamation because of an op-ed she published in the Washington Post in 2018. Heard is countersuing Depp. The case is set to continue.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or