LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Troubled pop star Britney Spears was in a Los Angeles hospital on psychiatric hold for the second time in a month on Thursday after being taken from her home by ambulance under a police escort.
Spears, 26, whose life has grown increasingly erratic in the past 12 months, is being held for a three-day mental evaluation on the orders of her psychiatrist, her self-styled manager, Sam Lutfi, told celebrity news media.
“She went willingly. It was like something in her heart was telling her she should go. She knew something was wrong,” Lutfi told People magazine.
News video showed more than a dozen police motorcycles and squad cars leaving Spears’ Los Angeles home shortly after midnight on Thursday and taking her to the UCLA Medical Center.
The hospital declined to confirm Spears was a patient, citing confidentiality.
Road blocks were set up in a vain bid to deter paparazzi who have trailed the former pop phenomenon round the clock as her life has spun out of control.
Spears’ estranged mother, Lynne, and her father, Jamie, were pictured leaving the hospital on Thursday along with Lutfi. Asked if her daughter was OK, Lynne Spears told a throng of reporters, “Yes.”
Celebrity web site TMZ.com said the pop star’s psychiatrist felt Spears was a danger to herself because of reckless driving and a recent deterioration in her behavior.
Friends and family have said they believe the former teen pop phenomenon is suffering from bipolar disorder — which is characterized by abrupt mood swings — or other psychiatric problems.
In recent days, the Louisiana native has assumed a British accent and has been photographed sitting in the street in tears clutching her dog, and arguing loudly with friends.
An unnamed source told Us Weekly that Spears had not slept since Saturday and that the “intervention” by her family and psychiatrist had been planned for several days.
Spears’ personal life went downhill after she filed for divorce from Kevin Federline in November 2006. She was seen out partying without wearing panties. She shaved her head, attacked paparazzi and spent a month in rehab.
Spears lost custody and visiting rights with her two young sons and was ordered last year to undergo random drug and alcohol tests by the court handling her bitter custody dispute with Federline.
She was hospitalized on January 3 after apparently locking herself in a bathroom in hysterics and refusing to hand back her two sons to representatives of Federline. Spears discharged herself after two days.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness on Thursday pleaded for Spears’ privacy during her treatment.
Executive director Michael Fitzpatrick condemned the “media circus and reckless speculation” surrounding the health of the singer. He also criticized the professional ethics of mental health experts who are not directly involved in her diagnosis or treatment but speak to the media about her case.