Britney Spears

overedge

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Brian Wilson is someone else whose conservatorship got very messy:


Similar situation with some mental health struggles.

Except that Brian Wilson was part of a band, not a solo act. And since he was the main songwriter for the band, the band depended on him for most of their songs (well, at least most of their good ones). There's similarities but IMHO there's more differences than similarities.

FWIW although Brian isn't currently under a conservatorship, there's rumours that his current wife pushes him to tour and to make records, even though he's not really up to it mentally and finds it really stressful, because she wants the big $$$ to keep rolling in.
 

AxelAnnie

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Except that Brian Wilson was part of a band, not a solo act. And since he was the main songwriter for the band, the band depended on him for most of their songs (well, at least most of their good ones). There's similarities but IMHO there's more differences than similarities.

FWIW although Brian isn't currently under a conservatorship, there's rumours that his current wife pushes him to tour and to make records, even though he's not really up to it mentally and finds it really stressful, because she wants the big $$$ to keep rolling in.
I suspect that ALL conservator situations can become horrible, dealing with mentally ill. Who wants their stuff taken away? Who wants control taken away. That would be no one.

Bipolar in particular is such a fickle disease. Can't be cured. Can only be managed. People so often stop the meds because the highs are so fabulous. And of course the euphoria leaves you feeling indestructible and that leads to irrational and unsafe behaviors.
 

canbelto

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Except that Brian Wilson was part of a band, not a solo act. And since he was the main songwriter for the band, the band depended on him for most of their songs (well, at least most of their good ones). There's similarities but IMHO there's more differences than similarities.

FWIW although Brian isn't currently under a conservatorship, there's rumours that his current wife pushes him to tour and to make records, even though he's not really up to it mentally and finds it really stressful, because she wants the big $$$ to keep rolling in.

I bring up Brian Wilson because a few years agoI saw a concert with him. It was horrifying. He was disoriented and barely lucid. The other people in the band sang while he sat in a wheelchair all night looking confused and mumbling. I was wondering "Who is pushing him to perform in this condition?"
 

Prancer

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Who in this saga do you trust? Who seems like a reliable narrator? I certainly can't find anyone.
I don't trust anyone particularly. I don't have enough information to trust anyone.

What would it look like if someone were in Britney's corner? How would you know? Jamie Spears claims that he is looking out for his daughter's best interests. The professional conservator claims that she is looking out for Britney's best interests. Britney herself seem pretty incoherent, but whether that's because it's her natural state or part of her mental illness, I don't know. The details of almost everything are confidential, as they should be.

It's not that it isn't anyone's business (has someone said that?). It's that I don't see how we have either the information or the expertise to know what is best for Britney.

What do you think would happen to her if she were released from this conservatorship tomorrow and allowed full autonomy? I don't know the answer to that. She might be fine and perfectly capable of handing her own affairs. But she also might not be. What would everyone think if she went on a self-destructive bender (I think this is pretty likely, but I certainly don't know)? Would it be okay because she's making her own decisions?
I think they are doing what the systems, in this case judicial, were deiberately set up for them to do and allow them to do. Like make a decision quickly without speaking to the person whose rights were about to be curtailed and not raise alternatives, as described in The New Yorker article.
If a person lacks capacity to make decisions about their lives, what alternatives and advice should be offered to them? If that person is in a mental health crisis, how long should the judicial system wait to make a decision?

What do you suggest as an alternative here?

It's interesting to me that so many people are taking this stance here when I have read so many posts over the years in which people have argued that more needs to be done to help the mentally ill and that it is a shame that people's hands are tied when it comes to helping people with mental illness, largely because the courts are so reluctant to intervene. I am not saying that you made these posts, only that this has been a common theme when a mentally ill person is engaging in destructive behaviors and people want to know why there can't be more intervention.

What should be done?
Except that Brian Wilson was part of a band, not a solo act. And since he was the main songwriter for the band, the band depended on him for most of their songs (well, at least most of their good ones). There's similarities but IMHO there's more differences than similarities.
Brian Wilson was part of a band, but long before he was put into a conservatorship, he stopped touring with that band after having a nervous breakdown. Glen Campbell replaced him on tour before anyone knew who Glen Campbell was because it was clear to everyone that Brian couldn't tour. He stayed in California and wrote songs as he slid deeper into mental illness. The band would go on the road and come back to find Brian ever more ill; everyone knew something was wrong with him, but no one knew exactly what to do about it.

I still remember when Brian Wilson showed up to talk to the press with a piece of bread on his head and announced that he was a sandwich. Should he have been in charge of his own affairs at the time?

As for touring now, he says he wants to tour and make music and that's his life. If that's not a good decision for him, then what should be done about it? Should he not make decisions for himself?
 

puglover

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For sure, there are many who take advantage of the mentally ill. There are also those who truly love them, are thrown into a situation they are totally unprepared for, and are often treated as the villains by professionals, counsellors and sadly even their loved one who has become irrational and is striking out. Our daughter had a fantastic group of amazing friends through high school - guys and girls - wonderful kids and she was very much a part of their group. She went away to college and came home sick. There is such a stigma attached to mental illness that no one was really forthcoming about exactly why she was home. She was invited to a party or get together at one of her friend's homes. She very much wanted to go. We thought she was not well enough and it was a bad idea. She went - had a breakdown there - locked herself in the washroom - screaming and crying. My husband had to go over and talk her out of her hysteria. I can honestly say things were never the same with those friends and now even as they all are adult career women and mothers I feel those two former closest friends are guarded around her. I wish we had done more to protect her then but we learned and were prepared to be "the bad guys" in other situations.
 

MacMadame

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Has it been confirmed that Britney has bipolar disorder?
I don't think it has. OTOH, it seems at least somewhat likely.

Though some of the things Spears was doing that got her into a conservatorship seemed pretty mild to me. I mean who hasn't thought about shaving off all their hair at some point in their lives? And some people even do it. She had just had a baby and was being hounded by paparazzi. You don't have to have bipolar to react badly in that situation.

Anyway.

The issue I see with conservatorships is that the assumption is that the conservatoree is incapacitated and everything stems from that. They aren't able to pick their own attorney or their conservator or make a host of other decisions. Now, if they really are incapacitated, that makes sense. But, if they are not, this makes it that much harder to get control of their own affairs back because everything they say or do is filtered through the lens of not believing them/assuming they are making poor decisions.

IMO the burden of proof should be on those who say the person is incapacitated, not the supposedly incapacitated one. And it should be a very high burden of proof too given how many rights the conservatoree is going to lose. They should have their own lawyer just like a child does when there is a family court issue. If they don't have one, the court can appoint one but if they have one, then the court should honor their wishes.

Then, there should be types of conservatorships and only a person who is very old and suffering from something like dementia that is going to get worse, not better should have the type where it goes on indefinitely. Mentally ill people should be in conservatorships that have an expiration date and then it only gets extended if the people who want it extended meet the (high) burden of proof.

Note: there actually are different types of conservatorships in CA and part of the problem is that Spears is under a general one and that should never have happened IMO, not for something like mental illness where a person can get the disease under control. So for CA, I would say that they need to revise the types and have better guidelines for which ones to use in different situations. Healthy people in the throes of a breakdown should not be put into indefinite conservatorships but in temporary ones that allow them to get into treatment and get to a place where they can take over their lives again.

Also, just because a person is mentally ill or making bad decisions, that doesn't mean they should be in a conservatorship. Most of us make bad decisions at least some of the time. It's our right to do so and being mentally ill doesn't mean you have no rights.

I do have personal experience dealing with a family member with a mental illness. It is true that once someone is an adult, the family has little recourse. But making it so that you can commit someone who is an adult against their will so they can get treatment is not the same thing as putting them in a conservatorship and taking away all their rights. There is a middle ground here.
 

overedge

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Brian Wilson was part of a band, but long before he was put into a conservatorship, he stopped touring with that band after having a nervous breakdown. Glen Campbell replaced him on tour before anyone knew who Glen Campbell was because it was clear to everyone that Brian couldn't tour. He stayed in California and wrote songs as he slid deeper into mental illness. The band would go on the road and come back to find Brian ever more ill; everyone knew something was wrong with him, but no one knew exactly what to do about it.

I still remember when Brian Wilson showed up to talk to the press with a piece of bread on his head and announced that he was a sandwich. Should he have been in charge of his own affairs at the time?

Please re-read my post. I wasn't saying that he never should have had a conservatorship, ever. There were clearly times in his life when he was struggling and needed help. My point was that he had, and has, different pressures on him than Britney does, and did, so they're not really valid examples to compare in understanding why or how conservatorshops should work.
As for touring now, he says he wants to tour and make music and that's his life. If that's not a good decision for him, then what should be done about it? Should he not make decisions for himself?

He's not making the decisions (allegedly). His wife - who is also his manager - is allegedly calling the shots, and she's POed the group that tours under the name of the Beach Boys. So he's not going to make touring money from touring with them. Apparently he's fine with making music in the studio, and with working on projects like re-issues and compilations. But he's a nervous performer, even with musicians that he trusts and likes, and he finds touring very stressful. Yet he keeps doing it. So you figure it out: is he doing it because he wants to, or because he's being "encouraged" to?
 

Prancer

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I don't have to suggest anything: there are existing legal alternatives that were described in the article that were less drastic.
Yes, they are. But are they the most effective or helpful?
I don't think it has. OTOH, it seems at least somewhat likely.

Though some of the things Spears was doing that got her into a conservatorship seemed pretty mild to me. I mean who hasn't thought about shaving off all their hair at some point in their lives? And some people even do it. She had just had a baby and was being hounded by paparazzi. You don't have to have bipolar to react badly in that situation.
I've actually never thought about shaving my head. But as I said at the time, I don't think shaving your head is a big deal. I also remember the things Britney was saying at the time, though, and they were not things that made me think she was just shaving her head.
Also, just because a person is mentally ill or making bad decisions, that doesn't mean they should be in a conservatorship. Most of us make bad decisions at least some of the time. It's our right to do so and being mentally ill doesn't mean you have no rights.

I do have personal experience dealing with a family member with a mental illness. It is true that once someone is an adult, the family has little recourse. But making it so that you can commit someone who is an adult against their will so they can get treatment is not the same thing as putting them in a conservatorship and taking away all their rights. There is a middle ground here.
What would be the middle ground? Partial control? That would be just less of the same.

Some might find it enlightening to revisit this thread from when Britney was taken to the hospital for the first 5150 hold. Or this thread. Or the one linked above. Or any of the other Britney threads from the past. Note the kinds of behavior being described at the time.

So yes, we all have the right to make bad decisions and live with the consequences of them. But most of us also have the ability to both recognize a bad decision when we are making one and to adapt our behavior to prevent ourselves from making more bad decisions once we do make one.
Please re-read my post. I wasn't saying that he never should have had a conservatorship, ever.
Reread mine, then, as I didn't claim that you'd said anything of the kind. You asserted that things were different for Wilson because he was in a band; my point was that he really wasn't in the band after his illness set in.

The rest was just general comments.

There were clearly times in his life when he was struggling and needed help. My point was that he had, and has, different pressures on him than Britney does, and did, so they're not really valid examples to compare in understanding why or how conservatorshops should work.
I don't see the pressures on them as all that different; in both cases, they are people who were obligated to produce creative content for other people whether they liked it or not while suffering from known mental illnesses.

The main differences I see in them are that Wilson was and is schizoid and Britney is bipolar; of the two, Britney is more likely to be able to manage her own affairs. That, and Britney is, by luck of timing, living in a better time for people with mental illnesses.
He's not making the decisions (allegedly). His wife - who is also his manager - is allegedly calling the shots, and she's POed the group that tours under the name of the Beach Boys. So he's not going to make touring money from touring with them. Apparently he's fine with making music in the studio, and with working on projects like re-issues and compilations. But he's a nervous performer, even with musicians that he trusts and likes, and he finds touring very stressful. Yet he keeps doing it. So you figure it out: is he doing it because he wants to, or because he's being "encouraged" to?
If he says it's his own doing, who am I to say it isn't? When I looked something up about his case to verify that I had the facts right, I found several accolades from people about his wife has really turned his life around and made it better. Once again, I have no idea what's true or isn't and cannot make an informed judgment, so I will go with what he says.

A lot of performers have terrible stage fright and find performing stressful and they still do it. Actors, singers, dancers, athletes--heck, I have performance anxiety and I still haul myself up on stage every now and then and perform, shaking hands and churning stomach and blank mind and all--and I have a whole lot less incentive than Brian Wilson does.
 

MacMadame

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What would be the middle ground? Partial control? That would be just less of the same.
I was thinking that it should be easier to commit people who are in the throes of a breakdown. That seems to be what families struggle with the most is that they know their family member is not taking their meds or is otherwise experiencing a breakdown but they can't get them help until they are very far gone, if then. I know that has happened in my family.

The flip side to that is that people in the throes of mental health episodes can't be helped if they don't want to be. But giving them the opportunity before they hurt themselves or others would be an improvement IMO
 

Japanfan

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If a person lacks capacity to make decisions about their lives, what alternatives and advice should be offered to them? If that person is in a mental health crisis, how long should the judicial system wait to make a decision?

This is not about Spears in particular, but who gets to decide if a person lacks capacity to make decisions about their lives? Is anyone checking up on them?

So many people make bad decisions, including criminal acts, without anyone having the right to supervise their behavior and actions.

So many people get incorrectly identified as mentally ill, or misdiagnosed. And once identified as such, get stuck in the system. Others come to see them as mentally ill and they may even grow to believe they are mentally ill themselves. The horrible but apparently feminist short story 'The Yellow Wallpaper' comes to mind.

There was an interesting study done some years ago about some students or researchers who pretended to be schizophrenic, and they all had no trouble convincing the authorities that they were indeed mentally ill. Interesting study.
 
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antmanb

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I don't really know what should be done for the best but as a first step allowing Britney to hire a lawyer of her choice might be a good start. If her current lawyer has been padding his time sheets and it's been proven then he should be pretty easy to fire.
 

Artistic Skaters

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When it comes to destructive behavior, it needs to be separated into two lists - destructive behavior harmful to other people and destructive behavior the person directs toward him/herself that is not harmful to other people. While at first look, it appears to have been done in this case, further readings seem like a lot of it is superficial or based on one sided presentation. For an example regarding the first, even the court appointed monitor as well as others (according to The New Yorker article) stated that BS was not abusing or neglecting her children. Her parents and brother might consider a possible cutoff of years of financial support as destructive to other people (them) but most people do not. Regarding the second, it certainly seems like the conservatorship system at this level pays lip service to disability rights or frequently breaks down when it comes to implementation:
Conservatorships can protect people who are elderly, or who live with profound disabilities or catastrophic mental illness. But there is also a wide range of alternatives to conservatorship that are less strict than what Spears has experienced, such as conditional powers of attorney or formal shared control of finances. As conservatorship law is written, the court is required to determine that a conservatorship is—and remains—necessary. “In practice,” Zoë Brennan-Krohn, a disability-rights attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “this is absolutely not the case. What should be happening is that a judge at a reëvaluation hearing would ask, ‘What else have you tried? Why isn’t anything else working?’ And, if the conservator hasn’t shown that they’ve tried less restrictive options, the conservatorship should be suspended. But I’ve never heard of a judge asking that in any situation.”
Even if the court questioned her choice for an outside attorney (there were some red flags raised in the article), rather than simply deny it outright, why couldn't they authorize a consultation with a disability rights attorney who can present at a hearing on her behalf and is completely independent of the conservator or the court system's attorney assignment lists? It's probably not realistic to assume people in this situation should know to request this if they've been told repeatedly by numerous parties they must be represented by the court appointed attorney. If they had an automatic step like this for someone in her situation, a lot of people might feel differently about the unfairness of the system.
 

mpal2

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I am curious if they will let her get an attorney she likes now. I am assuming the court or her father would still need to approve the selection too.
 

puglover

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Along with all of the unfortunate aspects of this, it seems to me it is so unfortunate that after years of Britney's life, little, if anything seems to be resolved. Whatever her diagnosis is or isn't, she does not seem to have any more insight and those in a position to impact this don't seem to either. Ideally, whether one has a physical or mental illness, strategies are developed and things added/avoided that improve or aggravate things. She seems not to have consistent confidence in her medications, counsellors, manager, lawyer, conservator, father and she can obviously afford the best in the business so why, after all these years, does it feel like they are still in the wilderness as her life ticks by?
 

kwanfan1818

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She seems not to have consistent confidence in her medications, counsellors, manager, lawyer, conservator, father and she can obviously afford the best in the business so why, after all these years, does it feel like they are still in the wilderness as her life ticks by?
She doesn't have control over her medications, counsellors, lawyer, conservator or her father's role in her life or how she uses her money. Why should she have anything but anger and frustration?
 

becca

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When it comes to destructive behavior, it needs to be separated into two lists - destructive behavior harmful to other people and destructive behavior the person directs toward him/herself that is not harmful to other people. While at first look, it appears to have been done in this case, further readings seem like a lot of it is superficial or based on one sided presentation. For an example regarding the first, even the court appointed monitor as well as others (according to The New Yorker article) stated that BS was not abusing or neglecting her children. Her parents and brother might consider a possible cutoff of years of financial support as destructive to other people (them) but most people do not. Regarding the second, it certainly seems like the conservatorship system at this level pays lip service to disability rights or frequently breaks down when it comes to implementation:

Even if the court questioned her choice for an outside attorney (there were some red flags raised in the article), rather than simply deny it outright, why couldn't they authorize a consultation with a disability rights attorney who can present at a hearing on her behalf and is completely independent of the conservator or the court system's attorney assignment lists? It's probably not realistic to assume people in this situation should know to request this if they've been told repeatedly by numerous parties they must be represented by the court appointed attorney. If they had an automatic step like this for someone in her situation, a lot of people might feel differently about the unfairness of the system.
I believe there was an incident where there is talk she may have put kids in danger. There was a moment she refused to hand over her kids.

Now they are older more able to defend themselves.

The conservation should end maybe or at least be less expressive but I wouldn’t say her actions caused no harm either.

I will give KFED props because I think he could have made things much harder for Britney to see her kids. And I think he has tried to work with her.
 
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screech

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The article also says that the judge at one point said she would consider ending the conservatorship if Britney produced one year of clean drug tests and established a healthy relationship with a therapist.
If others are controlling all the medications she is taking, and probably every single thing that is put in her body, isn't there a possibility that they're making it impossible for her to produce clean drug tests?
Also, it's pretty hard to establish a healthy relationship with a therapist, when you're not able to choose your own therapist...

Someone completely removed from the situation needs to do an in depth evaluation of every single person involved, from Britney and her boyfriend right up to every judge who has been involved. I have zero doubt that a lot of pockets are being lined under the table. Or we need Katie Porter and her whiteboard.

Even if she requires a conservator, it should be someone who, other than a normal fee, is not benefiting from the situation and who is actually qualified to help arrange for appropriate people for different roles, and who genuinely wants to work WITH Britney. In no way, shape or form should it be her father, who evidence shows is definitely benefiting from the situation, and against whom there is a restraining order. I mean, how can they legitimately believe that a person against whom there is a restraining order, is the best person to take care of her?
 

puglover

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She doesn't have control over her medications, counsellors, lawyer, conservator or her father's role in her life or how she uses her money. Why should she have anything but anger and frustration?
I am not saying she shouldn't be angry or frustrated - i am referring to the time line. As i understand it, this has been going on since around 2009. During that time, the court has been involved at least a number of times that we are aware of. It is tragic to me that there appears to be so little progress as her life passes by. Apparently, reports of her being happy have been a myth. Now it sounds like her lawyer and manager have resigned and the conservator has threatened to as well. Maybe that is what this needs, a whole new set of characters.
 

antmanb

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I agree I don’t think her father is the best one I mean he has a restraining order against his own Grandkid
I seriously doubt that's true, if anything wouldn't it be the grandkid having a restraining order against him?
 

meggonzo

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