Britney Spears performs at the 2007 MTV
Video Music Awards in Las Vegas. [Agencies]
With Britney Spears whisked out of the public spotlight Thursday and committed to a hospital psychiatric ward, it's now up to a team of professional caregivers to reverse her seemingly endless downward spiral.
Spears, accompanied by more than a dozen police officers, was taken to the UCLA Medical Center before dawn Thursday in what one officer would only say was an effort to "get help" for the troubled pop star.
It was her second 72-hour commitment in four weeks, though her previous stay lasted less than two days and was followed by more strange episodes that have accompanied her divorce and bruising child custody battle.
The law allows a person to be placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold for up to 72 hours if they are believed to be a danger to themselves or others. Spears' mother, Lynne Spears, was seen leaving the medical center's psychiatric hospital about 5:30 a.m. Asked if her daughter was all right, she replied, "Yeah."
Under the law, doctors may keep an individual under round-the-clock observation but may not medicate the person without his or her permission unless there appears to be grave danger, said Dr. Bruce Spring, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California.
"The hold is not a carte blanche for treatment," said Spring, who is not connected to Spears' case.
Spears' public emotional spiral began in November 2006 when she filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, the father of her infant sons, 1-year-old Jayden James and 2-year-old Sean Preston.
Neither Spears' attorney nor Federline's lawyer immediately returned calls for comment on her hospitalization. The pop star's spokeswoman declined to comment.
It was not immediately clear who initiated Spears' commitment process. The latest effort to get her help comes as various people in her life appear to be jockeying for influence, from her immediate family to two men who have recently surfaced.
One, Sam Lutfi, has described himself as Spears' manager and "very good friend." Earlier this week, Barbara Walters said on ABC's "The View" that Lutfi had contacted the veteran newswoman and told her that Spears saw a psychiatrist and "is starting some kind of treatment."
The other is Adnan Ghalib, a paparazzi photographer who recently announced that he is Spears' boyfriend. Soon after that announcement, Ghalib's wife of four years filed for a legal separation.
Ghalib has been seen escorting Spears on shopping excursions, restaurant outings and to court during her ongoing child-custody battle with Federline. He reportedly followed the motorcade to the hospital with Spears' mother.