After flashing her private parts to the paparazzi, shaving her head and checking in and out of rehab the way other stars check in and out of the Chateau Marmont, Britney Spears offers fans an explanation:
Blame it on ADD, bad managers and the media.
In a letter to her fans posted on her Web site, Spears pours out her heart and asks for forgiveness. But those familiar with celebrities and substance abuse don't believe Spears has come to terms with the cause of what appears to be a months-long breakdown.
Saying she wanted to "reach out to all of you and explain some of the things that I have been faced with recently," Spears writes that she went to "a very humbling place called rehab" not for alcohol or depression, but because "I was like a bad kid running around with ADD."
Psychoanalyst and relationship expert Bethany Marshall doesn't believe Spears has ADD. In fact, she thinks the pop star is digging for ways to make her hard-partying habits not seem so bad.
"Attention deficient disorder -- that's very odd," Marshall said. "Whether or not she's an addict, she's not yet ready to get sober, because she's minimizing her behavior."
An Addict in Denial?
Spears goes on in the Web post to accuse her former manager, Larry Rudolph, and others of trying to control her and blow her problems out of proportion.
"I feel like some of the people in my life made more of some issues than was necessary. I also feel like they knew I was beginning to use my brain for a change and cut some ties, so they wanted to be in more control of my life than me," she writes. "I think it is actually normal for a young girl to go out after a huge divorce. I think it was a bigger issue because I had not gone out in such a long time."
Marshall speculated that Spears is lashing out at Rudolph and others -- like her mom, Lynn Spears -- who refused to "enable" her and pushed her to seek help.
"These are the people who are calling her to task for her drinking and her partying," says Marshall. "She's saying they're making too big of a deal out of it, and then she's distorting what the true issue is, saying, 'They don't want me to use my brain.' She's confusing the real issue. They just want her to be a better mother. She's basically attacking them for not enabling her."
Spears also points fingers at the media for publicizing her problems, writing, "I am sure every mistake I make will probably be on CNN or 'Good Morning America.' I am only human people, and I love you for still loving me."
By placing blame on everyone but herself and not owning up to her mistakes, Spears fits the mold of an addict, explained Marshall.
"It's not just a mistake to use all night, abandon your children, shave off your hair and check yourself in and out of rehab," Marshall said. "That's how addicts talk -- she's talking exactly how addicts talk."
Spears' letter comes less than a month after she staged a brief tour through San Diego, Anaheim, Hollywood and Las Vegas. She seems to be emerging from the shell she built around herself after her divorce, according to celebrity publicist Michael Levine. But why do so with an Internet letter rather than a high-profile TV interview or splashy magazine cover story?
"It's more humble," Levine said. "And frankly, she hasn't done so well on television -- it's a risky format for her. Generally fans respond well to humility, contrition, personal responsibility. I think her fans will like some of this; they'll like vulnerable."
Marshall, meanwhile, sees the letter as evidence that Spears is either completely out of touch with reality or is immersed in a substance abuse problem -- either way, said the psychoanalyst, she needs help.
"She doesn't appear to be using the letter to make amends or to point to the reality of how out of control it was or make it comprehensible, which would really pave the way to true acceptance," Marshall said. "She appears to be talking like addicts talk who are not yet ready to be sober."