Normal amount of doubt regarding success in certain project, relationships or examinations is usually present in most people. However, when the fear of failure takes on an extreme form then it is termed as Atychiphobia. Atychiphobia is also known by several other names like Kakorrahaphobia, or Kakorraphiophobia which also covers the fear of rejection.
Individuals coping with Atychiphobia mainly fear failure because they lack confidence in their abilities. Some experience extreme fear of failure because of the ridicule one might face owing to the failure. Likewise, some suffer from Atychiphobia due to the fear of risk taking. Individuals coping with Atychiphobia often have rigid or unrealistic expectations and/or excessive standards of behavior.
Causes of the fear of failure
Atychiphobia is often linked to traumatic or embarrassing events in one’s past. Strict or overly demanding parents or demeaning siblings or friends can also lead a child to suffer extreme fear of failure. Minor failures in one’s childhood can cause embarrassment or ridicule. These lead to negative thoughts when undertaking other challenges. The fear of failure continues to grow and adds up as one matures. Add to this the fact that our cultures and societies lay certain expectations regarding looks, relationships, education and in general preset definitions and norms of failures and success.
Persons with the fear of failure often give up trying unless they have been guaranteed or assured of perfection in certain tasks.
Symptoms of Atychiphobia or the fear of failure
Atychiphobia can severely affect the quality of life of the person suffering from it. One might even go to great lengths to avoid things that are unlikely to have a favorable ending.
Many coping with the fear of failure phobia give up trying completely especially where relationships, education or job related projects are concerned. They believe in their mind that the outcome of most of these projects would be imperfect not realizing that perfection is merely an illusion. Their Atychiphobia causes these individuals to quit their jobs and end relationships to avoid the failure therein. The fear of failure can also lead the person to sabotage his/her life. S/he might fake illnesses, make constant excuses and tell blatant lies. This is known to lead to demotions, unemployment, negative reviews and divorces.
Apart from these signs, persons with Atychiphobia also experience several physical symptoms. The worrying thoughts regarding a given task at hand can lead to sleepless nights, tension headaches, muscle pain etc. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, the individual with Atychiphobia spends all his energy worrying about failure. Physical symptoms of Atychiphobia include gastrointestinal distress, headaches, sweating, anxiety and panic attacks, twitching, trembling, and irritability etc.
Treatment of Atychiphobia
Atychiphobia affects both men and women. Medication and drugs are usually the last line of treatment for this kind of phobia. This is because; drugs merely mask the symptoms and do not tackle the problem from its root. Talk therapy, counseling etc can help the patient open up about his fears in order to come up with effective solutions to cope with the stress experienced on being given a task.
The most effective treatment for the fear of failure is self motivation. Experts recommend breaking a task into smaller and manageable pieces and doing more gradually. This can help patients realize that failure does not mean the end of life rather it is crucial for the growing process.
If the irrational failure of fear is affecting you or someone you know and is standing in the way of success, then it is time to regain control over life. There are many different treatment options available today and one can definitely overcome their Atychiphobia with their help.
Yeah. I just realized I have this phobia and I always get good grades, but I had a sad past, so I think that is what started my phobia.
I have atychiphobia with clear symptoms and semi regular panic attacks starting in kindergarten. But it has the opposite affect on me. Instead of being afraid to take the step forward I can’t not take the step forward. Because of this I was often a straight A student and was often in leadership positions in various clubs and extracurriculars. But not because I was a try-hard but because my mind would literally go into a state of panic stressing over every tiny little thing that I would miss out on or missed job opportunities if I didn’t get the advanced degree if I didn’t try. Often times this coupled with my depression would cause so much stress that I would breakdown causing my head to spiral into thoughts of whether or not I was good enough, activating both my phobia and my depression at the same time in a vicious cycle. I vividly remember my first panic attack in kindergarten, breaking down because I was gently told that I wasn’t supposed to cut the solid line. Eventually I found my rock. I tell them everything so I can’t hold it in. Just telling them usually decreases stress and they have been around me long enough that they can handle my panic attacks. The attacks are still quite regular but with them around it is never as bad as it used to be.
I have the phobia of getting bad grades. I study, like before almost every test, but sometimes get a C-. I once even got an F because I forgot to do an assignment, and when I found out, my insides turned to ice! I was so scared. I just really like school, and impressing my mom. You could say I’m the Hermione Granger of the USA!
I like the Hermione Granger of the USA part haha.
i am someone says
I am the same way! I love to impress my mom and dad, but I am sad when I have missing assignments. I end up stressing so much and I do badly on my other assignments in school. I am sad.
I can’t be afraid of myself.
You posted this on my birthday and i saw it by pure coincidence and now i think about your comment every day.
What do I do if I excessively fear being imperfect in everything I do, even when I’m actually doing it perfectly?
I have it, too, even in my 60’s. It’s impeded my progress at romantic love and the sense of fulfillment at my job because I’ve never felt that I was good enough (leading me to believe that I am/was a failure). For some reason, even though I seem to be pretty good at most things that I do, I never feel like it’s good enough and the fulfillment is not lasting – in fact, it last for only a few minutes. Then the fear of failure and inferiority returns in a subtle but pervasive fashion.
Valerie Peterson says
I hope you and others find peace with this. Life is not meant to be lived like this. May you overcome this phobia and enjoy the beauty of life that is here for us all. Peace to you Val
Fear being a natural survival reaction, we hardly see it as a problem. But slowly it starts affecting our lives… My fear of public speaking crippled my progress to a great extent. I’m still not comfortable being exposed to a large audience (for me even a crowd of 10 people create a large audience).
Valerie Peterson says
Me too. Rehearsed public speaking causes me so much stress and by the time I get to the podium I am a disaster and this hurt my grades in college, yet speaking to a large group if there was an emergency is a breeze for me.
Okay, reading through this was spooky. Throughout my middle school and high school education I would only do homework assignments that I thought I could do. It drove me crazy, since my grades were suffering and my mom would tell people that I was a horrible and lazy kid who only did what she wanted when the reality is that I was more afraid of getting low marks than missing assignments. Now that I’m in college I force myself to get everything done, but it hits me really hard emotionally when I get less that an 80% on something. It gets really bad when it comes to my major, animation, since I have never gotten a bad mark in an animation class and still freak out when my animation isn’t even more perfect that professional films made my hundreds of the best artists. I had a thirty second animation that received monstrous amounts of praise and I got an A on it, but even now I’m embarrassed of it, and I was so afraid of it being bad that I worked to the point where I kept neglecting my bodily needs and ended up making myself sick. Atychiphobia sounds like exactly what it is, but I just thought it was a part of my depression or some weird form of OCD.
Try hypnosis by an expert. I’m an MD and a hypnotist. It’s safe low cost and can’t hurt.
Richard Turnbow says
How do I contact you?
I have this phobia too. I don’t want to tell anyone because it makes me highly uncomfortable. I can’t answer problems in class even though I want to SO bad but I’m scared it will be wrong. I never want to risk failing at school so I won’t talk to anybody. So at school I’m known as “Shy girl” or “Quiet girl”. Can someone help? Without medicine though.
Nikulogical cheese says
I am suffering from the same problem, fear of failure in the future, fear of not having enough potential and talent to complete my project and fear to suffer in the future! Its killing me every day, it made me mentally sick, its the worst form of torture, and i just don’t know whether i am the only one or there are people like me around.
Dude, it’s as if I was hearing myself… I am also scared to death…
I am suffering from the same but i cannot sleep most days because i am scared that i will get a negative grade. I am starting to talk with my mom and even with the school psychologist.
Valerie Peterson says
You are wise to recognize this and seek help. I bet you will overcome.
Jannah Vincent Loves Pandas says
I think i have the fear of failure, i took a test (I think I have an obsession with personality tests/quizzes XD) to see if it could guess my biggest fear. I got tied with three, which were; Fear of being alone, fear of death, and fear of failure. Now, I didn’t (and still don’t) know if i had the fear, so… I wanted to make sure. I read the description in the result (fear of failure), and it described my personality PERFECTLY. So, I came here just to see if i actually do… i don’t know YET…
unfortunately i have atychiphobia, i’m always afraid to take a step forward in anything either related to applying for a job or a new adventure in my life, sometimes i feel like i’m staying in my place and the others are moving forward, i hate that feeling so much
Bill Bobby says
I have this fear of failure and its killing me, i never dare do anything, because i’m to terrified that i will fail. I just recently realized what i had but i don’t dare talk with anyone about it because they might think that i’m joking or just plain old dumb. I have learnt to sometimes overcome it when it comes to academics, but it is mainly prominently with my relationships. There are been several people that i have liked, but i was simultaneously friends with them. I never dared to do anything about my feelings because i was scared that i would lose what i have and consequently fail. Do i have this fear of failure or am i misdiagnosing myself? Should i tell my parents?
Jannah Vincent Loves Pandas says
Yes, probably tell your parents… they could probably help you overcome the fear you have :)!
Biggest fear is not being successful in life and proving my mom wrong when it comes to being someone in life. Being a teenager and always doubting myself when I do something isn’t going to get me anywhere that’s why I want to get rid of it.
Most problems in life in over money or computer smart phones ?
Godfrey Senga says
I use to have this fear. The fear of failure. I started listening to Dr cindy trim following her prayers. I got so encouraged that. I started facing my fears. Now everything around me is progressing. People are different what works for me might not work for You, but trying might help.
I have known that I have a fear of failure for some time now but just recently this fear has paralysed me to the point where I cannot perform competently at work and other places. I am considering leaving to seek help (counselling, e.t.c) so that business operations do not stall because of me but I also realize that I would have to grapple with unemployment and all that comes with it if I do. My fear makes me bold in making very irrational choices and everything around me is now falling apart. How best would I handle this?
Hey, is there any other solution except medicine? Because I can’t tell my family about it, they won’t take it seriously. But I need to get rid of this, it’s killing me.
I know what you mean. i tried telling my parents but they just didnt take it seriously. they think that it is normal and every person is like that. BUT its not normal. how can a normal person say that this is normal? It’s a phobia im literally afraid to do easy things that other people dont have any problem doing it. I really need to find another way to overcome this phobia. self-motivation doesnt help me.
hugo zileri says
I have atychiphobia and clear symptoms that match your descriptions.
I believe the best healing approach is counseling. I have positive experiences the last 6 months from counseling and I wish to combine meds and counseling. My doctor has now suggested I take dopamine and I have started 1 week ago. Previously I have tried SSRIs for a year with no success in reducing my symptoms. Question: what medications could be suitable for this condition? Has anyone tried dopamine?
Looking forward to any comments and experiences. Hugo.