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Amanda Bynes: Helpless to survive, parents take control

Friday morning a Ventura County judge ruled Amanda Bynes is “severely disabled.” Why were Bynes’ doctors granted this extremely rare emergency conservatorship?

Breaking news update: Amanda Bynes’ parents were just granted temporary conservatorship over Bynes’ medical care and her estate, valued at $4 million.

Bynes’ attorney strongly argued against the ruling and urged Bynes’ parents to talk with their daughter in person before making any financial decisions. TMZ reports Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship will remain in effect until at least Sept. 30, 2013.

Friday morning did not go well for Amanda Bynes: A judge ruled Bynes is too mentally unstable to even attend Friday’s conservatorship hearing.

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Instead, Amanda Bynes’ doctors requested an emergency hearing take place at the hospital early Friday morning. TMZ reports doctors are so concerned with Bynes’ mental health state they urgently petitioned a judge to grant them the right to significantly extend her psych hold.

This morning a judge rushed to the Los Angeles Hillmont Psychiatric Center, where Bynes has been involuntarily committed since July 23, 2013, and granted an emergency conservatorship to her medical providers.

Specifically, the judge found Amanda to be “gravely disabled” by her current mental condition and ordered her to be held for another 30 days.

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California law states that emergency conservatorship for an individual who is “gravely disabled” may be applied only in severe situations where the person in question is:

  1. Unable to provide basic shelter, food, or clothing
  2. Unable or refuses to take prescribed medication without supervision
  3. Unable to recognize the severity of their mental health condition
  4. At significant risk for self-harm

Given the strictness of such rulings, emergency conservatorships, like the ones Amanda Bynes is now under, are extremely rare. California law explicitly states that eccentric behavior and/or a refusal to accept medical treatment alone cannot be considered justification for an emergency conservatorship.

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In a shockingly sad explanation, a recent California ruling wrote that someone like Amanda Bynes must be literally “helpless” to survive (see Conservatorship of Smith, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 909) before the court can find someone “severely disabled.”

Bynes will remain involuntarily committed for another 30 days to continue her intense psychiatric care. This means she will not be released from the hospital until at least Sept. 9, 2013. At that time, she will have been committed for almost 60 days.

Bynes’ suspected battle with schizophrenia was expected to threaten her conservatorship defense but many thought she would be well enough to attend Friday’s hearing. A judge is still expected to review Bynes’ parents petition to gain control of her finances.

On July 23, 2013, Amanda Bynes trespassed onto an elderly woman’s property where she started a fire in the homeowner’s driveway. When police were called to the residence, they noticed Bynes had burn marks and was incoherent.

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At that time, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department placed Bynes under a 72-hour psych hold, known as a 5150.

Reports were leaked to the media last month that Bynes suffers from awful outbursts in the hospital, biting herself and yelling at the staff in incoherent and out-of-control rants. TMZ says they received word that Bynes was even “physically restrained” just days after her initial admission in late July.

Hillmont Psychiatric Center, where Bynes is staying, came under scrutiny in 2009 for its treatment plans. The Ventura County Star reported that state officials concluded that doctors at the facility were not sufficiently helping patients before their release, and noted high relapse and self-harm rates.

Since then, the Ventura County psychiatric unit has taken major steps to improve its level of care.

Doctors hope the emergency conservatorship ruling today will allow Bynes to adjust to an intense combination of medication.

Photo courtesy of MeetTheFamous/

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