Is Amanda Bynes Headed for Another 1 Year Conservatorship?

You can sense it might be coming.

After doing so well for the past year, Amanda Bynes behavior seemed to be deteriorating after her parent’s 1 year conservatorship ended in September:

  • She told reporters she was engaged and that she needed a “tremendous amount of facial surgery.”
  • She was arrested for DUI in California on September 28.
  • A few days later she was seen in Manhattan with a large bandage on her face.
  • She was banned by NY department store Barneys after shoplifting suspicions were raised.
  • She tweeted allegations of sexual assault by her father, which she then retracted saying:

amanda tweet

It was this last episode that lead her distraught parents, Lynn and Rick Bynes, and their attorney to hatch a plan to bring Amanda back to California for an involuntary hold. Using Brittany Spear‘s friend Sam Lufti to orchestrate Amanda’s flight to LA. Thinking she was to going to see a lawyer in order to sue her parents, Bynes was instead taken to a psychiatric facility where she was placed a 5150 psychiatric hold (see below). The 72-hour hold was extended to two weeks, and doctors are now seeking a LPS hold. This is different than the conservatorship that her parents had in that doctors would be able to keep her confined and medicated for up to one year.

Amanda is apparently quite upset with her parents and wants nothing more to do with them. On the other hand, her parents are quite relieved and “happy that she is safe.”

Amanda’s behavior is similar to the behavior she was exhibiting over a year ago when she first had to be hospitalized.

What are these different psychiatric holds?

In California, there are a number of laws which deal with the  involuntary civil commitment to a mental health institution:

A 5150 psychiatric hold, commonly known as a “72 hour hold” allows for a  “period of 72 hours for persons alleged to meet the legal criteria of being a danger to self or others or gravely disabled due to a mental disorder.”

A 5250 hold, commonly known as a “14 day hold,” allows an additional 14 days for evaluation and treatment.

An LPS hold is based on the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act ( the California legislators who wrote the California Mental Health Act of 1967). The Act went into full effect on July 1, 1972, citing seven articles of intent:

  • To end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of mentally disordered persons, people with developmental disabilities, and persons impaired by chronic alcoholism, and to eliminate legal disabilities;
  • To provide prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with serious mental disorders or impaired by chronic alcoholism;
  • To guarantee and protect public safety;
  • To safeguard individual rights through judicial review;
  • To provide individualized treatment, supervision, and placement services by a conservatorship program for gravely disabled persons;
  • To encourage the full use of all existing agencies, professional personnel and public funds to accomplish these objectives and to prevent duplication of services and unnecessary expenditures;
  • To protect mentally disordered persons and developmentally disabled persons from criminal acts.

An LPS conservatorship gives legal authority to one adult (called a conservator) to make certain decisions for a seriously mentally ill person (called a conservatee) who is unable to take care of him/ herself.

If asked, the Court can give LPS conservator the duty to take care of and protect the seriously mentally ill person (conservator of the person) and also the power to handle the financial matters of the seriously mentally ill person (conservator of the estate). The conservator can give consent to mental health treatment, even if the conservatee objects. S/he can legally agree to the use of psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs (but the conservatee may physically refuse to take them).

Also, the conservator can agree to place the mentally ill person in a locked facility if a psychiatrist says it is needed and the hospital agrees to take the person, whether or not the conservatee agrees. The conservator can also decide where the mentally ill person will live when s/he is not in a locked psychiatric facility.

An LPS conservatorship only lasts one year. Renewal is possible, but a new petition is required at least 2-3 months before the current conservatorship expires.

The most common illnesses are serious, biological brain disorders, like:

Source: Superior Court of California

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

2 Comments

  1. Addison Verger

    October 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    celebrities,” to write off celebrities as vapid or self-absorbed or, otherwise, foolish, living in a world fueled by money and fame. However, these individuals are people all the same and still deserving of the same care and privacy we believe we all deserve. In the case of medical illness, celebrities often suffer the greatest consequences from our quick judgments about their supposed motives.
    We have discussed in class the ways in which medical records can be perceived as privatized, or rather, whether or not they can ever truly be privatized. When one “chooses” to become a celebrity they accept a certain degree of openness to the public and, in return, often expect a certain degree of their privacy to be breached. Paparazzi are able to dig deep, and if I really wanted to know what Kim Kardashian ate for dinner last night, I could probably easily find out. Thus, such issues of daily life, such as ones health status, quickly become public knowledge when one attains celebrity status. For example, we have recently been bombarded with the possible diagnoses regarding Joan River’s unexpected passing. Such coverage obviously makes for great media stories, but is the constant display, and often flood, of seemingly private medical information ethical? What makes these individuals so much more deserving of our attention and yet so less deserving of what we perceive to be a human right?
    In the case of Amanda Bynes, I presume she would appreciate a break from the media spotlight, for the sake of her overall well-being. It has not only seemed as though the previous constant media coverage of her “down fall” helped to fuel her disease, but further to sully her image in the eyes of the public. Perhaps if we cut some of these celebrities a bit of a break, they could work more effectively to better themselves.

  2. Hayley Peoples

    November 4, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    One of the most lasting statements I have read in my medicine and media class is “For the first time in history we can digitize humans” (Topol 2012). I found this quote so impactful because it made be realize how different our society is now more than before. Everyone has computers; it’s hard to communicate with the world if you don’t have a cell phone. In this day in age, everything is becoming computerized, to the point where now a person’s medical records can exist only in a digit form. Along with medical information being completely digitized, it also seems that we are digitizing celebrities. Most of the celebrities we read about or follow online, we have never met in person. Sometimes it seems like they are this fictional version of themselves, meant to shock us so we continue to want to follow them. But, by making every part of your life available, comes with a cost.
    I believe that most of society view celebrities as fictionalized humans. It seems that celebrities are placed on a pedestal we forget that they are still worthy of that same privacy and medical care as the rest of us. One important downside to consider with EHR’s is worrying about security and privacy of digitized medical information. This is a big issue with celebrities; because so much of their lives are already exposed, so medical information can become compromised very quickly. Security and privacy are such big issues in the digital age because everything is so readily available. In regards to privacy, I could find out what any celebrity had for dinner today with minimal effort. The more information like that is available, the more society wants. Then we want to know about their private lives, families, and medical history. Medical records should be very private, especially with laws such as HIPPA. But as we discussed in class, can anything really be private?
    In class, we discussed that some of the major risks of using EHRs are privacy violation, dehumanization of the patient, and less interaction. In the case of Amanda Bynes, her mental issues became a source of entertainment for a long time. She accumulated millions of twitter followers, and most people found her entertaining rather than in need of help. Finally, she was placed on a 1-year conservatorship, but she seems to be worsening as it ended. Celebrities are often exposed to greater trouble when trying to keep their lives private. Because there lives are so open, society assumes that their medical information is also fair game. I find this especially troublesome in the case of Amanda Bynes, because she is sick enough for the courts to legally give someone else the decision-making authority when it comes to her life. This type of control over another human being should be taken very seriously, but instead most people react very blasé about the situation. I feel that the general consensus in the gossip publications is that she is crazy, and should be treated, but they don’t talk about how she’s having the ability to make decisions for herself taken away. I think that instead of gossip publications encouraging society to fuel her bizarre actions, I think we should stop reporting on her so she can get the help that she needs.

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