‘Mental Health Film Comment’ Podcast: Miranda Spencer on ‘Framing Britney Spears’


MIA Staff Editor Miranda Spencer went on the Mental Health Film Comment podcast, which looks at mental health issues as depicted in various media, to talk about her coverage of Britney Spears’ conservatorship and the way the pop star’s mental health issues and current legal status are being portrayed.

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  1. Though the interviewer in this podcast was not that astute, this whole issue is very important, and Miranda is quite astute regarding this.

    The big question here is how conservatorship and guardianship law could be misused to benefit people who are operating very close to the level of criminal. And of course the other big issue that is relevant to us is how much power the current messages about “mental health” carry in current society.

    Both of these issues reflect a creeping corruption in society. Psychiatry and psychology, with their morality-neutral teachings, have a lot to do with this creep. Those of us who are here as “survivors” as well as those of us who are merely critics should realize to what extent we have been staring at the beast that has been putting all of us in harm’s way to a greater and greater extent over recent years. How and why our current systems got so bad are just as worthy questions, it seems to me, as how to fix them.

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  2. According to a April 2019 TMZ and other news reports, the “cocktail of medicines that were designed specifically” for Britney were “increasingly ineffective and doctors needed to create a new cocktail.”

    TMZ reported her psychiatrists explained creating a new cocktail is risky because they just use a “trail and error” method and their errors made Britney unstable and unwilling to cooperate. After being admitted to a facility, Britney’s psychiatrists told TMZ they think they figured out the right mixture of psychiatric drugs to keep her under control.

    As Miranda mentions in the podcast, Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, claims his daughter suffers from dementia.

    In light of the fact psychiatric drugs can cause memory loss, confusion and other side effects similar to dementia symptoms, her alleged symptoms of dementia may be the result of the psychiatric drugs prescribed to control her behavior/moods/personality and other perceived psychiatric disorders.

    It is disheartening to know celebrities who receive so much attention from the public and have financial access to resources/alternative therapies, unavailable to most, are still misinformed and trapped in the same broken system as those who are less fortunate.

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    • Interesting how an ineffective “cocktail” of drugs leads to the conclusion that a “new cocktail” needs to be devised, rather than the more obvious but less remunerative conclusion that “cocktails” of random drugs simply don’t lead to good outcomes, at a minimum in this case at least. The answer is always more or different drugs, it seems, no matter how many times that screw just WON’T HAMMER IN PROPERLY WITH THIS HAMMER!

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  3. Aside from the issues you both raise, it is completely inappropriate for a psychiatrist to tell a news media outlet about a patient’s treatment and condition –whatever happened to HIPAA and common sense? Although I wouldn’t want to call TMZ a news outlet; it’s really a gossip tabloid. Finally, we don’t really know if the information is accurate. If it is, it speaks volumes about the agenda of Britney’s conservators to allow this information to be made public.

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    • Miranda,

      I really appreciated reading “My Letter to an Advocate for Involuntary Treatment” by Emily Hochman, published June 1 on MIA.

      In it she writes: “there are a lot of things that I want to say but feel I can‚Äôt because there would be big consequences for me…You have to be careful whom you tell what and which words and mannerisms you use. With time and experience, I‚Äôve learned, especially at the doctor‚Äôs, to speak with utmost calm, using measured speech without interjections and minimal hand gestures, my face relaxed, the intensity of my gaze on low”

      Emily words are very meaningful as being labeled with a psychiatric disorder creates a special class in our society. Unlike others, individuals with a “history of mental illness” are especially vulnerable to unfair judgment, gossip and criticism. Very easily the rights of a “mentally ill” person can be taken away by anyone who feels the “mentally ill” person is not acting “normal”.

      All it takes is an anonymous call and the “mentally ill” person can be removed from their home and will then have to prove they are “normal” do not need forced treatment. They do not have the right to know who placed the call.

      Psychiatric labels automatically create a power-play in all relationships for individuals from all walks of life. Our “mentally ill” population are in need of strong advocates who will act in their best interest. Thank you for calling attention to Britney’s case.

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  4. Yikes!

    What Ms. Spears revealed at her June 23, 2021 court hearing is shocking:

    The New York Times reports:
    Britney Spears said on Wednesday that the people who control her affairs had refused to allow her to get her IUD removed so that she could try to have a third child. ‚ÄúI want to be able to get married and have a baby,‚ÄĚ Spears said at a court hearing.

    Among many other issues, a concern must be is Ms. Spears (along with countless others under forced psychiatric treatment) being treated as a modern-day Carrie Buck?

    The 1927 U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell decided the fate of Carrie Buck, an 18-year-old patient at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded who was sentenced to compulsory sterilization because she represented a ‚Äúgenetic threat to society‚ÄĚ.

    The Court‚Äôs decision sanctioned the state‚Äôs use of medical procedures on select individuals without their consent ‚Äúfor the protection and health of the state‚ÄĚ. Unlike other infamous decisions, the ruling in Buck has never been directly overruled and there are some reasons to believe that Buck is still good law today.

    The decision in Buck v Bell set a dangerous precedent as the states were allowed to employ medical opinion to create a class of people who were no longer afforded equal protection. The medical opinion that certain individuals and their offspring posed a ‚Äúthreat to society‚ÄĚ empowered professionals to practice coercive medicine in what became a prejudiced and culturally accepted, non-participatory model of mental health care.

    This model does not honor the patient’s perspective and places the physician in an authoritative role.

    Because of her past, Ms. Spears is forced to live under the authority of psychiatrists.

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