Toward an Account of Relational Autonomy in Healthcare and Treatment Settings
Keywords:autonomy, mental health, relational autonomy, feminist conceptions of autonomy, recovery, therapeutic ethics, feminism
Currently held conceptions of autonomy that inform biomedicine are inadequate and oppressive. Liberal notions of individualism are anti-humanist and constitute pernicious socialization, which leads to internalized oppression and dehumanization, especially among already oppressed groups. Women in recovery from addiction and other mental illnesses are especially affected by anti-humanist conceptions of autonomy. I argue that these women need to receive treatment that supports autonomy through supplementing psychiatric and rehabilitative therapy with humanistic education and group therapy. Treatment must encourage the construction of healthy social interaction that augments a sense of supported autonomy.
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