Conservatorship: Medieval Roots

  • If you want to understand the modern conservatorship, you have to go back in time—at least half a millennium: these provisions go back to medieval England, to when the Crown took over the estates of noblemen who were unable to manage them.
  • Conservatorships have changed in scope over the years. Whereas they have historically been all-encompassing more limited conservatorships are becoming an option.
  • Conservatorships aren't necessarily easy to obtain. In general, since the late 1960s, it has become more difficult to commit someone against their will.


What #FreeBritney Can Tell Us About Mental Health and the Law


 What A Conservatorships Is

Sometimes called guardianship (depending on the state), a conservatorship is a legal arrangement whereby a conservator (or guardian) is appointed to make decisions on the incapacitated person's, behalf when they are found unable to manage daily life without being a danger to themselves or others. 

Conservatorship mostly deals with the management of the conservatee's finances, whereas guardianship deals with everyday care, such as help around the home, with medical care, etc. Britney Spears's conservatorship allows for both.

There are an estimated 1.5 million adults under guardianship in the U.S


  • When anyone is put in charge of another's wellbeing, there's a risk for abuse, especially in the case of fame and fortune.
  •  Without money or influence, the conservatee may struggle to prove that they are being abused by their conservator. Once you're deemed "mentally unfit," anything you say or do can be questioned. 
  • Conservators are paid for providing care. Because of this payment, she says, some are going to try to push to keep the conservatorship in place.
  • Conservatorships are there for a reason. They provide care for people who cannot care for themselves. Think of someone with severe dementia who, without a conservator, might forget that they left the stove on.


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Conservatorship/ guardianship

Conservatorship/guardianship has recently come under the spotlight with the documentary about Britney Spears, along with the ongoing hearings about her own conservatorship.

Historically, conservatorships/guardianships were designed to protect people with decreasing faculties from those who want to take advantage of them by securing their resources. Independent third parties are assigned legal authority to make decisions on their behalf to best preserve their wellbeing and financial interests.



What to Know About Conservatorships and Mental Illness

Holding space - what it means

Holding space for someone means taking the initiative to be empathic to another person's circumstances and taking the time to do whatever is needed for them.

Holding space is ensuring the person in your life is seen and fully heard. It means setting time aside and giving them your undivided attention without redirecting the conversation that is supposed to be about them.



What Does It Mean to Hold Space for Someone?

What can Aristotle teach us about the routes to happiness? - Edith Hall | Aeon Essays