Britney Spears begins her career comeback in earnest this week, with an MTV documentary airing Friday, and the release of her album, Circus, on December 2, her 27th birthday. But rehab experts wonder if the mother of two is "definitely ready" to jumpstart her languishing career, as her manager Larry Rudolph claimed she was just last week.
Having just gone through a lengthy public meltdown that led to her children being placed with her ex-husband Kevin Federline, her financial affairs being placed with her father, a one-month stay at the Promises rehab facility in Malibu in 2007, and a humiliatingly out-of-it performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards, is the stress of a do-or-die comeback too much, too soon?
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"Recovery doesn't happen overnight," said Daniel Gatlin, Executive Director of Renaissance Malibu, a residential treatment facility in California, and a former counselor at the Promises center where Britney stayed. "[This] could be a desperate move to fulfill obligations and the agendas of those around her."
Indeed, many people are depending on Spears cranking out a few more hits. Since her 1999 debut, she has earned her recording company, Jive Records, $400 million alone. "There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of money at stake, but you can’t have a committee making your life decisions," says Clifford Bernstein, Medical Director of the Waismann Institute in Beverly Hills. (Neither Bernstein nor Gatlin treats Spears.) "I’d imagine that work for Britney can be a bad place. Everyone is there to make money off of her, and so they want her to get back to work right away."
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In her MTV documentary, filmed over the three months she was recording Circus, Spears explains her breakdown, saying: "I totally lost my way, lost focus, lost myself." She also says that her life now has "no excitement, there’s no passion" and that she feels like she’s in prison. "It’s never ending. It’s like Groundhog’s Day," she tells the cameras.
According to Gatlin, it sounds like Spears has many issues that remain unresolved. "Twenty-eight days is just enough to detox and get physically stabilized," he says. "You need longer to tackle psychological and cultural issues. Her work is very chaotic. It’s not about Britney, other than what Britney can provide."
Both experts suggest that Britney needs a psychologist to continue to work with her on tour. "She needs a recovery plan that helps her find who she is," says Gatlin. "She can’t let other people define her."
If Spears is still in a fragile, emotional state, surviving the rigors of the her comeback will be no easy feat.
"Vulnerable and debilitated people can be controlled because they are kept in a vulnerable place. She might want to adjust and get rid of some of the people," says Gatlin. "People make judgments and directives that have nothing to with the reality of who you are, especially if you don't have good self-esteem. You can look good on the outside, but feel very bad on the inside,"