"Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse for Britney, it did," said Mike Fleeman, the West Coast editor at People.com who has followed the star's career since she was a teenager. "This is pandemonium, a complete breakdown. She went from star to train wreck. Spears' behavior has been erratic for more than a year. Eleven months ago she shaved her head, and we all thought she couldn't get any crazier. … She could lose everything, including the ability to see her kids."
"In the very near term she is facing litigation to retain visitation rights. In the medium term, she could be court ordered into rehab or a psychiatric facility. In the long term is the question of if she'll be able to survive," he said.
As the media speculates about her future, psychologists speculate about her past and just what triggered this latest incident.
"It is difficult to determine if this is only a problem with using prohibited substances or if she's totally off her rocker," said Stuart Fischoff, senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology.
"She is at the age where psychosis or bipolar disorder often sets in. If she is mentally ill that would account for a lot of her bizarre behavior. Everyone has been on a Britney Spears watch, not knowing that what they are actually witnessing may be a psychological breakdown."
Fischoff said that Spears' alleged use of drugs, seeming inability to realize how she is being perceived by others and her "hyper sexualized" behavior indicate she might have a real psychological disorder.
"Plenty of starlets have been institutionalized in the past. If it were to occur, it would perhaps be unique among her peer groups but not in Hollywood," he said.