Amanda Bynes: Can Anything Be Done for Her?

Yes, the actress appears to be in crisis. But don't blame yourself

By Leslie Gornstein Sep 19, 2012 1:15 PMTags
Amanda BynesJLM/Splash News

Why isn't anyone doing anything to help Amanda Bynes?!?! She clearly needs help and yet so many strangers are just sitting there watching.
—Aviva, Illinois, via Twitter

Your sentiment is as earnest as Amanda Bynes' behavior is bizarre. But this kind of sanctimony has always puzzled me. It's the same sort of rhetoric we heard back when Joaquin Phoenix was disguising himself as the Unabomber, or when Anna Nicole Smith was stumbling around on reality TV: Will someone please think of the celebrities?!?!?!

But think for a minute. What, exactly, as an average citizen of Los Angeles, am I supposed to do, if I, say, witness Amanda behaving less than normally in public? Call the cops? Page a crisis hotline?

I did some research for you, just in case there was something I'm missing. Here's what I can tell you.

Yes, Bynes has been acting erratically. Yes, Bynes definitely shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car, and the law, apparently, agrees. Yes, neighbors have reported to E! News that the What a Girl Wants star has begun to withdraw from her local community.

But legally, there's nothing that most fans or even friends can even do, except encourage her to seek out whatever help—if any—she may need, and pray she listens.

If they see Bynes behaving weirdly, people "can call law enforcement and be the eyes and ears for LAPD," explains defense attorney David Diamond. If cops determine then and there that a person is a danger to herself or others, she may be detained involuntarily and be given psychiatric evaluation, the way Britney Spears was in 2008.

But Bynes hasn't displayed anything close to that.

"Talking to yourself on the side of the road isn't even going to trigger much" by way of law enforcement help, Diamond says. "I understand people asking, ‘What can be done to help her?' And I think there may be some issues with Amanda Bynes, but they need to come out more" before anything concrete can be done.

"A stranger can't do much of anything unless she threatens to harm them," Diamond says. "You can't really help someone unless they want to help themselves."