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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 11/20/2008

Pop Psychology: Deconstructing Britney

By Liz Kelly

Despite the fact that she's unquestionably in a much better place than she was a year ago -- career back on track, in shape, spending quality time with her kids and our favorite turnaround -- Britney Spears is not a happy camper. Or so she'd have us believe in a new special, "Britney: For the Record," set to air on MTV on Nov. 30, two days ahead of the release of her new album.

Amidst the look at Brit's life as a pop phenomenon, come these surprisingly candid statements:

"There's no excitement, there’s no passion. I have really good days, and then I have bad days. Even when you go to jail, y'know, there's the time when you’re gonna get out. But in this situation, it's never ending. It's just like Groundhog Day every day."

"I think it's too in control. If I wasn't under the restraints I'm under, I'd feel so liberated. When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear but they're really not listening."

The doc also includes Brit's admission that her marriage to Kevin Federline was a mistake and this scathing impression of chief restrainer/dad Jamie Spears:

Putting aside the riddle of how this 8-ton bomb made it past dad, how can we reconcile Brit's seemingly triumphant recovery with the despondence and bitterness of the quotes above?

I asked my go-to Britney analyst Dr. Andrea Bonior, licensed clinical psychologist and author of the Baggage Check column for The Post's Express daily:

Unfortunately for Britney, right now several aspects of her life must feel out of her control, despite all appearances of moving forward. She has someone else dictating her limited and overly structured contact with her kids, she’s attempting a career comeback whose success will depend solely on the whims of us, the Cheeto-eating public, and all of her legal and financial decisions have been taken out of her hands. Such a lack of autonomy, despite being necessary and in her and her children’s best interests right now, can easily lead to frustration, anger, and a sense of hopelessness.

I can dig that. And maybe Spears really needs those limits in her life, freeing her up to work on getting better. Though I do have to wonder if camp Spears has Brit's best interests at heart when they rush her back into the studio, and the spotlight, within months of her last breakdown. Still, there is a way forward for Brit, according to Dr. Bonior:

The key for her will be to try to find small ways to exert autonomy on a day-to-day basis, and to have faith that this current situation is all part of working toward a larger goal that will ultimately give her back the spontaneity and freedom that she so craves. In other words, she needs to really believe that it's worth it.

"Britney: For the Record" airs Sunday, Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.

By Liz Kelly  | November 20, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Britney Spears, Celebrities  
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If she's on any kind of bipolar meds it could also be affecting how she perceives things... She's not having the extreme highs she used to. Which is good, because they come with extreme lows. Being "leveled out" takes some getting used to.

Or so I've heard.

Posted by: dablues1 | November 20, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"The key for her will be to try to find small ways to exert autonomy on a day-to-day basis"

Step one would be convincing Dad to give her a little decorative purse with a $5 bill each day so she can go back to making her liberating Starbucks runs.

Posted by: 44west | November 20, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like she's a bipolar on mood stabilizers. There's often a longing for the emotional highs, even at the expense of experiencing the emotional lows.

Posted by: lolyla | November 20, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Waaay to soon for Britney to try a comeback. I realize that the public quickly forgets a celebrity who steps out of the spotlight, but one year is not a long time when a person is trying to cope with serious depression or bi-polar disorder. The drugs give a person the opportunity to work on underlying personality issues by leveling out the highs and lows, but the person needs to do the mental work. That takes time, much more time than a year. Adding the stress of trying to re-start a celebrity career at the same time is playing with fire.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 20, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Britney should also avoid Madonna who cannot be a good influence on her at this point of her life. Unless..Madge introduces her to her good friend Gwynn who can be nice and soothing and cure insomnia.

Posted by: hodie | November 20, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the court made the conservatorship permanent rather than just extending it again tells me something is very seriously wrong with this girl. Someone who is mentally ill does find just living to be a kind of prison and not worth the effort.

Instead of trying to suck every cent they can out of her before she kills herself, they should let her retire someplace quiet and get better.

Posted by: epjd | November 20, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

On December 2, Britney turns 27 -- an age that hasn't been good to more than one famous person (as we know).

She should take two years to get better (at least make it to 28 without major incident) then plan a comeback -- if she still wants one then -- around 30.

And by "comeback" I mean take it slow. Guest on someone else's new song ("Fergie, featuring Britney Spears"), maybe a small TV role.

Sounds good, doesn't it? The problem is her crazy attention-grabbing mother, her tabloid-magnet sister, the out-of-control paparazzi, etc. I feel for her.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | November 20, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I watched the "art is my therapy" clip.

All this time I thought she was dancing like a stripper because she's a skanky mess but really she was just getting in touch with her feelings.

Posted by: pras40 | November 20, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Part of me feels like that this young woman needs to just step away from the spotlight for her own good.

But then you remember - she has spent most of her life performing, or training to perform. It's pretty much what she knows, and she used to be known for her work ethic as a performer. If she's going to have a routine to stabilize her, unfortunately, it might just have to be getting back in the performance saddle, as it were. This is a woman who doesn't have any other trade to fall back on, and I'm not sure - did she even graduate from the Professional Performing Arts School?

She can mock her father all she wants, but she needs to stabilize somehow - if it's through being watched every day and having a routine that's a bit more mundane than her previous life, then perhaps that's what it takes.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 20, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

You know, this girl has been working since she was what - 9?? OF course one reaches a developmental point where there isn't a lot of excitement left in normal life. When you won your first grammy at 16, what do you do for an adult encore?

I agree with the prior poster: her parents are a disaster, and haven't equipped this person for a normal life. A comeback may be dangerous to a normal person, but I doubt that this person can go for very long without working. What is she going to do with herself? The marriage and parenting thing went wrong, and it was her first major mistake, and she was too driven to handle it well. Getting back on solid footing in something productive will probably help. But I'd agree: guesting on other people's songs sounds like a great place to start.

Posted by: badmommy | November 20, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is why do Cheetos always get a bum wrap? I love Cheetos. And I even have a Master's Degree.


Posted by: gmusicchic | November 20, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I thought she was Hasselbeck for a second there.

I do agree that she needs to be out of the spotlight just resting for much longer than she did. Unless there is something fulfilling that she can do, other than perform all the time, she may always feel like being in jail (which is a cry for help). It seems as if she's being propped up to continue making money, meanwhile the Britney unleashed that we saw earlier this year is still there not getting the help she needs.

Posted by: petalceleb | November 20, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Jalepeno-flavored Cheetos are the BOMB!

Posted by: GerdTopsnic | November 20, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Bronx Mowgli?


Posted by: byoolin1 | November 21, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

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