Drew Barrymore shares her 'empathy' for Britney Spears, talks about her own time in a psychiatric ward

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Drew Barrymore is speaking out in support of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton amid new attention being placed on how the former party girls were treated in their youth. 

Barrymore has been in the public eye since she was a child and currently hosts her very own talk show. During a recent appearance on Howard Stern’s show, the star discussed her own wild days that led to a stay in a psychiatric ward when she was 13 years old. 

The host likened her situation to that of Spears, prompting the host to note that she has “so much empathy” for people in her position. 

“Paris Hilton came on this show and she had been institutionalized by her mom and, you know, you think like Britney and Paris and I’ve thought it for myself, I’m sure that people look on and think, ‘These party girls, these privileges, how dare they have feelings about any of this? They’ve put themselves out there, they’ve asked for this — it’s fair f—ing game,’ and I just go, ‘They’re humans. They’re just humans,’ and I have a lot of empathy,” the star explained.


Stern previously shared his support for Spears as the public continues to discuss the pop star’s life and past treatment in the public eye following the release of the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary and her conservatorship battle with her father, Jamie Spears. Hilton, meanwhile, drew headlines earlier this year when she spoke out about her experience at an abusive boarding school she attended when she was young.

Drew Barrymore shared her support for Britney Spears while revealing her own wild youth stories.
(Getty Images)

Barrymore also opened up about her time in a psychiatric ward after her mother got desperate for help raising her when she was 13.

“My mom put me in a place that was like a full psychiatric ward. I used to laugh at those, like Malibu 30-day places. They talked about things that p—d me off. I was just like… A little spa vacation for 30 days in Malibu was sort of the opposite of the experience I had,” she explained. “I was in a place for a year and a half called Van Nuys Psychiatric and you couldn’t mess around in there. If you did, you’d get thrown either in the padded room or get put in stretcher restraints and tied up.”

Barrymore said that her time being stuck in that place was marked by constant rebellion, taking her lead from punk rockers like Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics, who she idolized. 

“I would channel my inner riot girl,” she said, noting that she would start mini revolutions against the staff with her peers. 

Drew Barrymore appeared on Howard Stern to discuss her upbringing.
(Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Splash News)

“It was like half a kids facility and half an old person’s place, so as I was riling up these young girls the woman in the walker would go by. It was hilarious,” she added.

Although she resented her mother for putting her there at the time, as an adult and mother of two herself, she understands why her mother was at the end of her rope, admitting that she was “out of control.” 


“I think she created a monster and she didn’t know what to do with the monster,” the star admitted. “This was her last gasp, and I really was out of control, and I forgive her for making this choice. She probably felt she had nowhere to turn.”


Stern asked her if she has a good relationship with her mother today, to which the star noted that they communicate all the time.

“I’m really glad there is healing there,” she concluded.

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