What happened
Troubled singer Britney Spears left Los Angeles to avoid a planned intervention by her family, the New York Daily News reported last Thursday. Spears’ family criticized celebrity therapist Dr. Phil McGraw, who visited Spears after police took her to the hospital, for publicly saying that Spears was in “dire need” of better care as her personal life spirals out of control. (BBC News)

What the commentators said
Spears’ “erratic antics” have certainly raised questions about her mental health, said The Canadian Press via Google. But most mental health professionals have “panned” Dr. Phil for butting in so publicly. The consensus is that, if Britney is in need of care, it’s up to her family to deliver the message.

It’s certainly not up to the police to make that call, said Harry Reynolds in the Charleston, Ill., Times-Courier. Spears was hustled off to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a stand-off with police connected with the custody battle of Spears’ two kids. No matter the evidence about her mental health, it’s not the place of police to strip anyone of “the right to run—or ruin—her own life.”

Actually, California law allows cops to hold someone for up to three days if she’s “a danger to herself or to others,” said Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). The question is whether that’s long enough. Decades ago, California made it harder to commit people against their wishes because too many people were being locked up indefinitely. Britney “may just turn out to be a sad enough and famous enough Hollywood head case” to show that sometimes commiting someone is the only way to help.