Toward an Account of Relational Autonomy in Healthcare and Treatment Settings


  • Simone Lee Joannou University of the Witwatersrand



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.

Author Biography

Simone Lee Joannou, University of the Witwatersrand

Simone Lee Joannou is currently completing her MA in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her work focuses on topics of autonomy, mental health, addiction-recovery, and feminism.


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How to Cite

Joannou, S. (2016). Toward an Account of Relational Autonomy in Healthcare and Treatment Settings. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 24(1), 1–20.