Saturday, November 24, 2007

Why is Britney behaving this way?

Dr. Drew Pinksy spoke to US Magazine recently about Britney's bizarre behavior, drug addiction, and family history. Here's an excerpt.

US: What in Britney Spears’ childhood led her to where she is now?
DP: It's how her father treated her, it's the divorce and it’s the genetics.

US: How would her father’s substance abuse affect Britney?
DP: At least 60% of addiction is accounted for on the basis of genetics. I've never treated an addict that didn't have a family history of the disease. You have to inherit it from somewhere. We know that she is a drug addict because she's been admitted to a treatment center. You can't be admitted unless you’ve met criteria for addiction.

US: A person can’t be accepted for post-partum depression?
DP: If you go to a psychiatric hospital for post-partum depression, you go to the psychiatric hospital, you don't go to the chemical dependency program. She is a drug addict. It is an indisputable point. And she has a parent with an addiction. Just by having a parent with addiction puts you at about a 50% risk for having your own addiction problem. But, just because you have a genetic heritage doesn't mean you're going to get an addiction. A childhood trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, will also propel a person towards full-blown addiction.

US: What about the fact that she became an international star at such a young age?
DP: Her mental health has almost nothing to do with her career. Fame hinders getting to her now. It is hard to get through the sycophants who are enabling her and be able to find people around Britney who are willing to potentially sacrifice either their salary or their access to her by bringing her into treatment. That's the core problem. That is what is putting her in danger. That is what killed Anna Nicole Smith. She had people around her who didn't step up and say you need to get treatment!

US: We found out that her paternal grandmother committed suicide at the age of 31 because she was depressed for years after the death of her baby. Could that mean anything?
DP: It means that there is a long history of serious mental illness in the family. Britney is behaving very bizarrely, she has been admitted to a chemical dependency program, she has a stressful career, she's divorced, she has childcare demands, and she is in denial and is paranoid. She has a mom with the proxy relationship and a dad with drug addiction and alcohol problems. When you add that up you get the recipe for where she is today.

US: Is it her parents who should help her?
DP: Generally you want to bring the family in. You want to treat the family too. You want the family to support the recovery. You'll be amazed how people in the family start out looking like villains until you realize all the different layers to the situation. How the addict treats the family members can make people act in strange ways. I would urge everyone to not point fingers, there are no evil people here; they're all just trying to live their lives.

US: What about the effects from Britney being sexually active from age 14, dressing provocatively, losing her virginity, and yet maintaining this image of purity and virginity?
DP: I have seen many cases of young girls who have been prematurely sexualized in one fashion or another who try to recapture their virginity. They claim that the abuse doesn't count, "I'm a virgin now." I see that quite a bit.

US: Would this change her identity? She pretty much had to make those claims, because her managers were telling her not to talk about her boyfriend, all the while dressing her up provocatively for the public.
DP: Her life was a media event. Her needs were subjugated for her career and that is part of the problem here.

US: Court documents indicate that her father cheated on her mother and Britney allegedly cheated on Justin, did she learn that from her parents?
DP: It would be hard to learn to value sacredness in marriage with that as an example. But, if you want the moment in her life when it started to unravel, it was when she got involved with Kevin Federline. The crazy thing about the human is that traumatic experiences in childhood get repeated as attractions in our adult life. We are attracted romantically to that very kind of person that was so terrorizing to us in childhood. It's a crazy mechanism. So Dad and Kevin are the same guy.

US: She has said that all she wanted was to be a mother and be married. What happened?
DP: Those kinds of drives you can't be taught, you have to have a deep motivational desire. The problem was that the attraction that she was following was distorted by her childhood.

US: She has also said she wants to be a waitress or a school teacher. Would you send your kids to school where Britney Spears was the teacher?
DP: If she had been treated successfully first absolutely. You'd see a brand new person; she'd be incredible. But she needs a lot of treatment. She needs time, time, time and a high degree of structure. She is just not interested, people are trying to get her into treatment and she won't go.

US: One thing we’ve seen Britney is that she has arrested social development. Do you agree?
DP: She's sort of our next Michael Jackson. It's understandable that developmentally they don't have the usual skills. She doesn't have the usual responsibility; she doesn't understand the coping strategies of an adult.

US: And how is she going to teach her children? Or say no to them?
DP: She won't. It's grandiose thinking: “That's how I was raised and that is how my kids are going to be raised.” It's not a good thing.

US: What can be done for Britney? Is she permanently damaged?
DP: She can be treated. She is not an untreatable situation, but she needs to go away and drop out of sight and focus on her sobriety for at least nine months.

US: Can she leave her kids?
DP: The kids can be brought into the process. But, for at least 30 days she is going to be mostly away from the kids. Then, for another six months or so, she can be in an intensive environment. It's going to take a long time.

US: How much of this dysfunction did Britney create herself and how much of it is a product of her life and upbringing?
DP: Yes, the circumstances in her life and her genetics have contributed to where she is today. There was no sinister plot to make her this way. Now she needs to change and that is where you have to hold her accountable, particularly because she has children. An adult shouldn’t be blaming anyone other than themselves. She can get better, she just doesn’t want to.

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