What has happened to Britney Spears?

What has happened to Britney Spears?
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Saturday, March 10, 2007
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What has happened to Britney Spears?
Not-so-'Lucky' star breaks down; can she get back up?
By Tamara Ikenberg
The Courier-Journal
"She's so lucky/she's a star/but she cry, cry cries/in her lonely heart,"
Britney Spears sang in her 2000 hit "Lucky."
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At the time, it seemed like a hollow complaint. The 19-year-old beauty was
on top of the pop world, with two hit albums and a devoted Justin
Seven years later, those lyrics seem much
more relevant as the once-bubbly Brit struggles
with a panoply of personal problems and a
stalled career. The world is left wondering:
What was responsible for this breakdown, and
can it be fixed?
"You have a woman whose life is in
extraordinary disarray. She's had two recent
children, a divorce, a stressful lifestyle," says
Drew "Dr. Drew" Pinsky, an addiction specialist
and personality on the Discovery Health
Channel. "I don't know what the status of her
friend relationships is; she seems to have
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Photo illustration by Andrew Davis, The Courier-Journal. Image from
PRNewsFoto/PEOPLE Magazine
Is her loneliness killing her, as she sang in her
1998 breakout single "… Baby One More
Time"? Will she end up a bitter, washed-up star
a la Baby Jane, psychologically torturing her
spritely sis Jamie-Lynn? Let's recap Britney's
recent bizarre behavior.
Early signs of trouble
It's not readily apparent when the meltdown
began. But things have been visibly shaky
since 2004, when she infamously wed Kevin
Federline. She had two babies, Sean Preston
and Jayden James, in 2005 and 2006,
respectively, and filed for divorce in November.
After that, things got worse. She spiraled into
drug addiction and started hanging out with
Paris Hilton, exposing her lady parts, vomiting
and making a scene wherever she went. Then
she checked herself in and out of rehab twice,
and has repeatedly shown up, frantic, at
Federline's doorstep, where she's been turned
away because he's worried about how seeing
their mom in such a state will affect their
children. But perhaps the most shocking and
telling moment was when she shaved her head
in the middle of last month.
+ enlarge
Britney Spears was caught by a film crew after shearing off her locks last
month. For many, it wasn't a fashion statement but a cry for help.
(KABC-TV/via AP)
"The astonishing thing is," Pinsky said, "here
she is, demanding to shave her hair off
impulsively in someone's closed barber shop, and the owner of the shop is
like, 'Britney, you're having a bad day, think about it' -- and the bodyguard
stepped in front of the owner and said, 'She can do whatever she wants; it's
her body.' That's emblematic of what's going on with this poor woman."
Psychologist Cooper Lawrence, a regular guest on CNN and host of her own
radio show, agrees that Spears' status is only hurting her.
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+ enlarge
Spears married Kevin Federline in 2004. Although they're divorcing, he's
been praised as a recent steadying influence (By Eric
Jamison/Associated Press)
4/7/07 5:28 PM
What has happened to Britney Spears?
"It gives her a sense of entitlement she doesn't need right now," Lawrence
says. "She needs humility to get through whatever she's getting through.
She's never been one for humility. It's not part of the whole structure of
Spears and Madonna put on a
show during a performance at the
MTV Video Music Awards in 2003.
(By Julie Jacobson/Associated
And Britney has been a star for much of her life, living a sheltered,
pampered existence where everyone on the payroll puffs her up.
"She didn't go through the normal developmental milestones the rest of us
go through at different ages; she was forced into a life that was not
congruous with her development," Lawrence says. "We know now as
psychologists that the frontal lobe is not fully developed till your early 20s.
She's at that age where her brain is catching up to her life. The fact that all
this went on prior to 25 is no shock."
Could Brit's premature stardom be part of the problem? She was being
groomed for celebrity before she was 10, having auditioned for "The New
Mickey Mouse Club" at age 8 and appearing on "Star Search" at 11. She
was featured on "The New Mickey Mouse Club" from ages 11 to 13.
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"There's nothing to suggest that being a young star or child star by itself is
what predisposes (one) to these issues," says Pinsky, who treats several
major stars. After all, if that were the core cause, wouldn't we see the same
problems arising with fellow former Mouseketeers Christina Aguilera and
Olivia C. Grosser, author of the new book "Britney Spears: Prodigal
Daughter," available at oliviapublishing.com, has an idea why Spears'
contemporaries haven't collapsed.
"I think Christina has been regarded as the 'second fiddle' to Britney all
along, so has consistently tried to improve her standing. This in turn means
she has had room to manipulate her image, to reinvent herself from vamp to
classy sophisticate. It has gained her an awful lot of respect and what I call
'late-onset recognition.' Christina is now in her mid-twenties and better able
to navigate and control her life and career. I don't think she had a parent or
manager controlling her in the way Spears' did," she says.
"As for Justin Timberlake, I think he has shrewdly invested and diversified
his talents. He has branched out from music into fine-dining and other
areas. He has constantly evolved, whereas Britney hasn't. Poor Spears got
stuck in a moment she thought would last forever, whereas Aguilera and
Timberlake know they have to roll with the punches to enjoy longevity in
their careers. … They have crafted their careers, unlike Britney, who was
entirely manufactured and perhaps never allowed to be who she wanted to
This suggests there could be more at play than stress, early stardom and
substance abuse. Pinsky and Lawrence both say Spears may suffer from
an organic mental condition like bipolar disorder.
"There might have been something there for a long time that's undiagnosed.
It took a while for it to dawn on people (that something could be mentally
wrong) because they're not intellectually savvy when it comes to
psychological problems," Lawrence says. "Britney… doesn't need rehab;
she needs a therapist. She's been going to Alcoholics Anonymous, which
is the most ridiculous thing in the world. They're treating her as an alcoholic
who has the same problems as every other alcoholic who's sitting in the
room with her. She's Britney Spears. So the anonymous part's already gone;
what's the point?"
Not funny anymore
People who were previously amused by Spears' antics have a more
empathetic point of view now.
"When you find the person you've been poking fun at is mentally unstable,
there's this guilt that comes after you've made fun of them," says Liz
Shaffer-Wishner, 23, a Louisville resident who works for AmeriCorp Vista.
But Shaffer-Wishner doesn't see a bright future for the star. "She can't stop
her own decline. She's going to be the next Anna Nicole Smith. She's going
to run herself into the ground."
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Others are also dismayed by Spears' latest choices.
"I was crazy about her before she shaved her head. Now she looks like a
little boy," says James Burrell, 39, an insurance agent who lives in
downtown Louisville.
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He doesn't think she's genuinely unstable, just that her current life
circumstances have dragged her down. "I think she's just stressed out … all
the attention she gets from the paparazzi. The average person couldn't deal
with it."
Louisville residents Mary Jent, 30, a mental health-care worker, and Kassie
Alfred, 27, a nursing student, said they were never big fans, but they've
been following Spears' story.
"She went from an idol to a bad after-school special," Jent says. "I think
she's just in a rough patch, or a fuzzy patch. No matter how crazy I get, I'm
not shaving my head."
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4/7/07 5:28 PM
What has happened to Britney Spears?
Alfred points out that Spears may be seriously alienating her core
"The demographic her music is aimed towards wouldn't understand what
she's going through, and can't feel sympathy or empathy," Alfred says.
Still, they feel she'll survive somehow. "People come back from worse,"
Jent says.
The experts also agree that with some serious self-reflection and a
commitment to treatment, Britney Spears may yet rise from this epic fall.
And most surprisingly, Federline, who almost everyone had pegged as the
deadbeat troublemaker in the saga, has stepped up to the plate when it
comes to caring for Sean and Jayden and dealing with Britney.
"Kevin Federline is suddenly looking like a good guy," Pinsky says. "He's
setting down boundaries appropriately, he's creating leverage and
motivation for her to stay in treatment."
If K-Fed can come out smelling like roses, Brit can surely re-emerge
smarter and stronger.
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i think every female should shave their head bald to show britney that we support her!
Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:55 pm
I am male, and 42 year old consultant instead of a pop star (whatever THAT is)
- but I, like our girl Brit,
1. shave my head
2. am recently divorced
3. have no musical talent
4. would shagg about any member of the opposite sex who meets my stringent
requirements (beating heart, no foul odors)
leave the poor girl alone, we are kindred spirits!
Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:00 am
Seriously what is this world coming to. People disgust me. She is human she bleeds red
just like you and me. She isnt perfect and no one is, there is no such thing as perfect and I
highly doubt she has any real true friends she can trust. Look at how many of her "so
called" friends are so quick to sell her out for profit and publicity. I honestly feel sorry for
her and I know exactly what she is going through. I was in shock when i saw that she
shaved her head because that was me. I was going to shave my head once because i just
lost it but i didnt and the fact she did really concerned me. The ironic thing about all of this
is that im not a fan and have never been but she is a child of God as we all are and people
need to leave her alone unless your trying to send her to an early grave. She needs
someone real someone she can trust and knows that they care about her as a human and
not just because shes britney spears. I hope this gets to a lot of people and you will leave
her alone and let her get help and heal.
Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:46 am
I think Britney should just get over it already. I mean for god's sake I'm going through a
divorce, and the custody of my daughter, and you don't see normal people out drinking and
partying. If she cared so much about those boys she'd get her sh*t together and grow up.
She makes me sick. I guess she thinks this is the only way she can get into the lime light
again, well I hate to break it to her, but her career is over, she messed that up the minute
she married K-Fed(or K-fag, whichever). She needs to pull her head outta her a** and put
those boys first, not her partying and her friends. Because friends come a dime a dozen,
your kids last forever. So Britney my message to you: Grow up and stop acting like a child,
face your damn problems head on.
Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:43 am
Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:32 pm
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