What is Autonomy?

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What is Autonomy?
Autonomy refers to a person’s right to self-management in terms of his conduct and affairs. Its literal meaning comes from the Greek word “autonomos” with “auto” meaning “self” and “nomos” meaning “law”. Autonomy also defines a person’s right to make decisions on his own and not be forced or manipulated by anybody else.

The concept of autonomy may be applied to oneself or to various fields like in politics, in religion, in languages, and in medicine among others. In its political application, autonomy involves states and countries and their right to self-government. Various conflicts were already recorded throughout history portraying man’s clamor for independence and/or autonomy. The Basque region in the northern region of Spain and part of France are still yearning for their complete liberation up to today. Though some of their activities are already considered “autonomous” like being able to have their own parliament and police force, many of them still struggle to fight for complete separation from Spain and France and have complete autonomy.

In the field of medicine, the autonomy of patients is considered part of proper ethics. Patients are given the chance to practice their rights in terms of deciding on their treatment and management options. Medical practitioners are aware that patients need to be informed of his/her medical condition before commencing any form of treatment. In this way, all patients will be able to practice their right to decide for their own health needs.

Autonomy may also be applied to people’s own day-to-day activities. As teenagers, many of us wanted more independence from our parents and insisted on our own rights to be heard. And by the time adulthood comes, the general society expects people to manage their own affairs individually and not rely on other people in making choices in life. Since all of us are born and raised in different ways, it is but normal that we all would like some form of independence in seeking our individual paths.

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