Although Britney Spears appears to be falling deeper into a pit of addiction and mental illness on a very public stage, one psychiatrist believes the one-time pop superstar can get better.
First, however, her children must be given immediate stability, said Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor who has not treated Spears.
"We know that early injuries done to children in terms of their safety and their feelings of being well-loved continue to affect them in later years and even as adults," he said.
"What I worry about is what it will take to make these boys feel whole again emotionally and feel that they’re in a safe environment. A safe environment does not include ambulances and helicopters hovering around. And it doesn’t include your mother having hair one day and no hair the next."
Police were called to Spears’ home at Thursday around 11 p.m. EST after she refused to hand over her children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, to ex-husband Kevin Federline’s body guards.
The 26-year-old singer turned over Sean Preston nearly two hours later and she and Jayden James were transported by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
"We really don’t know about the circumstances that lead to her child being hospitalized," Ablow said. "It could be as much of a legal maneuvering or a custody maneuvering as it is a medical maneuvering.
"I’ve seen a lot of children become pawns in their parents' divorce and we can’t know the number of variables that contributed to that child ending up in an ambulance."
Ablow said even though Federline has a sketchy parenting history — he left behind his children with actress Shar Jackson while she was pregnant with another of his children to embark on a relationship with Spears — it appears Federline is the better choice for full custody.
"The children need to have more positive interaction with each parent. That might mean full custody for Federline and only supervised visits for Britney Spears," Ablow said. "I haven’t evaluated her, but from all I can see, there needs to be more done rather than less."
Is a Recovery Possible?
Ablow said he sees the worsening of a complicated clinical picture involving drugs or alcohol and possibly a psychiatric disorder playing out in the media involving Spears.
"It’s a problem that’s impairing her in every realm," he said. "It’s affected her job, as the public responded negatively to her last public appearance, which she stumbled through. It’s affected her parenting, as one of her sons is currently hospitalized. It’s impaired her driving and her ability to participate in the legal process."
Ablow said Cedars-Sinai should do a thorough evaluation before releasing Spears and that it is possible for her to make a full recovery.
"She can get better but it’s going to take a psychologist or psychiatrist that is unmoved by her celebrity," he said.
"I’ve treated some very famous people and I’ve gone to court and installed a guardian for a very well-known person and it really shocked people. But if you act like a child in my practice, ultimately I have to believe emotionally you are a child and in need of someone to make adult decisions for you," he continued.
"So someone needs to step up to the plate like a general and say 'I’m going to make decisions for you that are strategic and correct, and I am unmoved by who you are.'"