Atelophobia: Fear of Being Imperfect

Atelophobia is also known as the fear of imperfection. To be imperfect means to feel incomplete like you have not accomplished or attained your set goals or you don’t measure up to what the society demands from you. It is derived from the two Greek words “Atelos” and “Phobos” meaning imperfect and fear respectively.

Perfectionism to some people is a drive which initiates a strong desire, hence, motivating them to achieve set targets and goals. Despite the fact that being perfect could be advantageous, it also has its downs. Not being able to fulfill one’s expectation or what people around you expect from you such as family members, friends, close relatives or superior colleagues at work is enough to subject an individual to a harsh, extreme condemnation and constant depression.

Sufferers of Atelophobia usually have the inability to have total rest of mind as their thoughts and actions are filled of likely disappointments. Hence, they feel resentful in trying new things.


The fear of imperfection is usually associated with the fear of failure. Sufferers feel everything they lay their hands on will be flawed. As with all phobias, the symptoms vary from one person to another, based on the level and cause of fear. The symptoms associated with Atelophobia are:

  •           Panic attacks
  •           Palpitations
  •           Insomnia
  •           Perspiration
  •           Depression
  •           Restlessness
  •           Headaches
  •           Sweating
  •           Shyness
  •           Inability to try new and difficult things


Causes of Atelophobia

There are different factors that could lead to the development of Atelophobia and some of the main factors are:


Atelophobia could arise as a result of harsh conditions faced during childhood. For example, if a child at school is not being able to answer questions correctly or pronounce a word rightly, such a child might be made an object of ridicule by peers or be criticized by the teacher. Constant criticism or mockery will make such child believe he or she won’t be able to do anything correctly. Comparing your children to other children lowers their self esteem and as such children need to be corrected in the right way and with love. They should feel encouraged not condemned.

          Traumatic events

Atelophobia could be as a result of events that might have occurred in the past. A bad experience with a boss or colleague at a work place, or a failed marriage can make a person feel whatever he or she engages in will be full of errors.

  Treatment of Atelophobia

Before treating Atelophobia, the condition needs to be diagnosed because right diagnosis is essential before the commencement of a treatment or therapy as regards any mental or physical illness.

It is not possible to treat a patient if he or she doesn’t want to be treated. So to fully get the best of these treatment options, you need to have the will to be treated.

§  Medications: sufferers of Atelophobia are often faced with anxiety which can hinder them from carrying out their everyday activities. The use of anti anxiety medications such as antidepressants, beta blockers and benzodiazepines will help them maintain the normal anxiety level. These drugs once administered only controls the physical and emotional symptoms temporarily. The effect of the drugs diminishes over time especially when doses are skipped or not used in the right amount.

The best way of treating Atelophobia is by psychological therapy.

   Exposure therapy:  this is carried out by a therapist, he or she will present a patient with examples of situations relating to past experiences which means the patient will be exposed gradually to situations that will trigger his or her anxiety. The amount of exposure is increased gradually during sessions. It is believed that upon exposure, the patient will gain the ability to overcome Atelophobia.

 §  Behavioral therapy: this therapy involves a one on one session with a therapist that is duly trained. A means of gradual exposure and desensitization is carried out to enable the patient to learn how to endure the anxieties associated with this fear.

 §  Cognitive behavioral therapy: This is a combination of both cognitive and behavioral therapies. It is also known as CBT. It involves exercises to alter the thoughts or patterns of thinking that you might have developed and the behaviors emanating from them. Changing the patterns of thoughts is the main way to get rid of this phobia. However, some people think this therapy will actually make patients more sensitive.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga also help in alleviating the symptoms associated with this phobia. There are various techniques, you only need to choose the one that comforts you.

 If your fear of imperfection is as a result of failure, you shouldn’t be put off by constant failures as it will only make you get better at what you do. Scribble your plans or goals you intend to achieve and the best ways you think you could accomplish them. By this, you’re already setting targets and meeting up to them before you know it. Even if the whole world tags you as being imperfect, at least you’ve been able to achieve something gradually.




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