She blames her family, the legal system, pop culture, and paparazzi. But what if she was just sick?
I'm not a fan of Brittany Spears, but I did go through a horrible hell with depression and concomitants for about 20 years, starting in my mid-teens.
In my experience, "intervention" was never helpful. Mostly because the people involved didn't really care what I was experiencing; they simply wanted me to "act normal" again.
When I made a suicide attempt at age 21, NO ONE ASKED WHY. That was mind-blowing to me. Doctors and counselors and friends and family...no one seemed the least bit curious about what drove me to want to die.
It wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I got real help...from "positive mental attitude" speakers who--ironically--didn't care much about me on a personal level, but who cared a great deal about how I, personally, could cope with the *reality* of what I was feeling and experiencing. It was they who helped me come to terms with the fact that no one but me cared about what was going on inside me, and that spending so much energy trying to get other people to care was a recipe for nothing but more and more misery. They gave me permission to feel whatever I chose to feel *for myself.*
I'm still kind of angry about the attitudes that everyone I cared about had toward my suffering. But I also recognize that they themselves may not have had the emotional wherewithal to react appropriately. The medical/psychological people, however, do not get a pass.
So while I don't care much personally about Brittany Spears, I do some empathy toward what she may have been put through by the people who were "just trying to help."
Just a heads up, Mr. Appel. I am a psychiatrist, and your assertion that Adderall can induce 'careless, erratic behavior' in the mentally stable is in error: generally, if taken orally, it increases focus and energy. And frankly I have never seen, nor ever read a case report, of a women in severe post partum depression who had 'periods of delusions, impulsiveness, paranoia' directly due to the use or abuse of Adderall. Sadly, severe post partum depression in itself can be associated with delusions and paranoia, without the addition of the stimulant.
“That perhaps Spears isn’t a victim of state overreach but instead a success story of state intervention. That maybe her family really does care about her well-being.”
I mean, there’s a lot in between these two extremes. Of course Britney was mentally ill when all of this started. But even the author of this piece was only temporarily institutionalized for his mental illness. He received treatment and apparently got to move on with his life. That is not what happened to Britney. Her father took control of her whole life, including her existing finances AND her career and future earnings. She became his circus monkey, learning tricks and putting on performances when HE told her to. He controlled whom she communicated with. He chose her doctors (who all conveniently confirmed whatever he wanted the judge to believe in order to retain the conservatorship). I’m sorry, but to compare a 13-year state-sanctioned nightmare like this to the author getting voluntary, short-lived, in-patient mental health treatment is disingenuous and illogical.
Britney Spears has a lot of problems. She does not appear to be mentally well. She appears to be suffering from arrested development (among other things) because of the ways in which she has been exploited her entire life.
But she never deserved what her family did to her.
Guardianships, and conservatorships, are not something to be taken lightly. There does need to be level upon level of care and double checking to make sure that the position of power that the courts allow over another adult is not being abused.
As the parent of 2 young men on the autism spectrum this is a reality that has been presented to us time and time again by our lawyers. We have not chosen this step as it takes from our highly intelligent sons their agency and humanity. This drastic step should only be taken if the person is a danger to themselves, or cannot function in a way to protect themselves from societal predators. (Our opinion)
Additionally, there are too many instances where states have allowed the abuse of the elderly through the machinations of conservators. Just look at some of the recent scandals coming out where a single individual, corrupt judge and doctors, persons wholly unrelated to an elderly individual, can have them declared incompetent without having to inform the family. Then the court appointed conservator steals the entire life savings of the elderly. There have also been high profile lawsuits by families here in NY where a conservator is preventing family from even seeing their loved ones.
That being said, I am not so sure that we should really take everything Britney says as gospel. Her actions since her conservatorship ended does show someone who is suffering from mental health issues. While as an adult she is allowed to behave as she wishes, there is an indication that not everything is ok with this young woman. So her perspective of what was done and why is most probably skewed.
That also doesn't mean that her family didn't abuse the conservatorship.
Several things can be true at the same time. She needed help. The only way to get her help was through a conservatorship. It may have lasted too long. It may also have been abusive, or maybe it saved her life.
Either way, the story is a terribly sad one.
Very few people get to breathe the rarified air that comes with the super stardom that Brittany had, and still has. I've never judged her too harshly; I think she is the product of an industry that mercilessly chews up and spits out so many talented people that blaming entirely her, or Miley or Whitney or Amy Winehouse or any of them for pushing back against it is inappropriate and just plain wrong.
It always astounds me.... who buys these books?
I always tell parents I am about the health of your child, and never ever lead with medications. I emphasize adequate sleep, but parents are allowing their children to stay up until after midnight on their phones, healthy diet but parents are allowing their children to skip breakfast, regular outdoor exercise but parents are allowing their children to remain indoors on their phones or gaming consoles, face to face relationships but parents allow their children to limit their connections to 'virtual' friends, free range play but parents focused on organized sports. The crisis and the tragedy of modern children's mental health should not be addressed with fixes such as medications or therapists or out patient programs, but begins with the family.
People with actual mental illness tend not to be able to make millions of dollars by using their excellent well-functioning brains to write music, perform it in an attractive way etc etc. Balance of probabilities? I'd say she was exploited rather than sick.
I’m not some huge fan of Ms Spears, nor am I hater, but this article seems skewed by the author own experience. Did Britney need an intervention in 2007? Probably. But the way she was treated for years and the amount of money Daddy Spears was making isn’t justified by saying, well, she’s alive and no one was seriously harmed. There was no nuance or reason. It was all or nothing. So now she seems erratic and a bit unstable. Because again they made an all or nothing decision. Total control or no help at all aren’t our only choices in these situations.
Psychiatrist here too. I won’t weigh in on diagnosis as the author and many other “I am not a psychiatrist, but....” commenters here.
But, Brittney was on a probate conservatorship, which is permanent and reserved for people who will never recover--i.e dementia, brain injury. The conservatorship instrument for mental health is called an LPS conservatorship and has wider reach over psych treatment, but is for a one year increment, the idea being the person can recover in that time.
Brittney got probate conserved due to the unethical actions of the court, some shady forensic psychiatrists and her family, and it absolutely wouldn’t have happened without money and influence.
I also think the author can’t be objective and is irresponsible in weighing in on the effects of certain medications--not even addressing what those are or aren’t.
The sad truth is that everyone thinks they are an expert on mental health and can opine because they have seen one case in someone, have it themselves or have it in their family. This is the “n of one” phenomenon where people extrapolate opinion and experience for fact. I am used to pathologists, hematologists, pulmonologists writing inflammatory pieces in the NY Times about psychiatry. I would never write an article in a national publication about hematology. But, there you go. Yes, the brain is a rather complicated organ and we don’t know everything yet, absolutely it is a clinical science in evolution and frankly, harder to figure out than a heart or lungs. That doesn’t mean people struggling don’t get to tell their story and don’t get autonomy to describe it. As wacky as it may be.
This piece seems disingenuous. The issue isn't really whether or not Britney was fully functional when the conservatorship was imposed on her. Of course she was unwell. That was pretty obvious. What everyone questioned was whether the conservatorship was executed in an appropriate manner, and in Britney's best interests. And there's a big question about whether after the thirteen year ordeal she is more healthy or less healthy.
The impression I got from the news of her that drifted my way, was that they were pumping her full of drugs so that she could continue to generate lots of income for the family, and that the family's main concern was to keep this revenue stream flowing. This may or may not have been true. News about celebrities is notoriously unreliable. But the narrative does seem to roughly fit the known facts. An alternative narrative is that the family just wouldn't accept their child as an adult, especially after her very public self-destructive phase. Perhaps it's a combination of the two. But in any event, it seems very difficult to justify the THIRTEEN YEAR complete infantilization of an adult, especially when there seems to be little evidence that any therapy she was receiving was improving her situation. Infantilization seems like the opposite of what you'd want to do with someone with mental/emotional problems. Instead, you'd want to help them build a healthy and strong personality which would be able to learn to cope with the issues. The author mentions his own brief hospitalization. Brief being the operative word.
But also, when most of us normies look at the long parade of young show biz celebrities whose lives have crashed and burned, we figure that the bright spotlight has a lot to do with the trouble. (Along with, of course, the enabling wealth and fame). So if you truly wanted to help your daughter heal, you'd get her out of the business. Take her somewhere quiet and low pressure, and give her time to pull the pieces together. This is what you do with people who have nervous breakdowns. But that's not what they did. So she was well enough to go out and generate lots of cash for the family, but not well enough to make any decisions on her own. It really doesn't sound like her conservators had her interests in mind.
Britney is clearly not all here now. But I suspect that much of her current trouble stems from what she was put through during the conservatorship. And that's a great tragedy.
I have the impression that conservatorship is mostly an all or nothing proposition. I’ve worked with people who have needed conservatorship and it seems to me they only need it for a part of their lives or for a limited time. It seems to me that the courts should try to arrange it so the conservatorship could be reviewed on an ongoing basis to determine if you are ever able, with supports, get your rights back. It’s frightening to think that the courts could take your rights away permanently.
Yes- my question is WHY SO many? My own theory is a toxic environment from womb through life. And the addition of screens 24-7 doesn’t help. They diagnose preschoolers with ADHD. Perhaps back in the day the food wasn’t poison and the kids got time outside all the time- and we’re allowed to just be.
This issue isn’t rampart in other western nations. There’s something wrong and big pharma from birth to death isn’t the answer bc if that’s the case then we ARE doomed.
And an interesting fact : France (and the EU) does not allow GMOs in their food. Period. France only started to require certain childhood vaxes for school in 2017/2018- it’s like 3 or 4 diseases. European countries dont have ANY pharma ads on their TV screens- ANY. And France and Italy have two of
The highest life expectancies BUT they smoke and drink a LOT. It’s not the healthcare as all would have you believe- it’s the lifestyle. And as a closing point- France has the LOWEST rate of autism of westernized nations. I have to ask- WHY?
My stepson, Jason, took his life in August, 2019. He had turned 30 a few months prior. His "friends" knew about his erratic behavior, his threats of suicide, his unhealthy relationship with a woman - and they knew my husband and me.
They wanted to "be loyal" to their friend and not "call the parents" about his being in crisis. When I called my stepson's "best friend" to tell him about Jason's death, his first words to me were, "So, he finally did it."
I. SHIT. YOU. NOT.
If my husband and I had had any idea of what was going on, we would have gone for a conservatorship in a heartbeat - no matter how angry it made him. We are living proof that we would rather have a living child hate us, than a dead child.
"Hollywood" will never tell our story. But I did, and you can read it in the link I've added. This IS what Suicide Loss Survivors experience. No one wants to see a movie like this, let alone live it like we have.
Britney's family first put her in the UCLA BHU. From my recollection, she was there for 6 months. This is a serious place. It's not some cushy place that would have benefitted from keeping her for six months. If they kept her there for that long, she needed to be there for that long.
I think it's obvious to anyone who is the least objective that Spears is spiraling again. I believe she has untreated bipolar disorder and was kept sane by the state forcing her to take her medications. Compare any interview when she was in conservatorship to now. Now that she's off, she spends her day spinning and dancing, pulling her bikini bottoms down, dancing with knives with dirty looking hair and smudged makeup.
If nothing changes, I don't see Britney making it to 45 years old.
I preferred Christine McVie. Or Linda Ronstadt. Or even Patsy Cline.