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Atelophobia: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Atelophobia (ah-tel-o-fobia) is someone who has a persistent and overwhelming dread of imperfections. A person may avoid tasks they could make a mistake on because they are so anxious about making errors or not being competent enough. It may accompany sadness and cause stress.

Anxiety disorders such as phobias seriously interfere with a person’s life. Atelophobia is excessive and may cause issues at work and in relationships, while being comparable to perfectionism more broadly.

Learn more about atelophobia signs, causes, diagnosis, and treatments as well as how it varies from other phobias by reading on.

What is Atelophobia?


The fear of imperfection is known as atelophobia. It is a kind of specific phobia, a class of anxiety disorders in which a person has intense dread of a particular thing, animal, place, or event.

A person who chases greatness because they believe they are not good enough or must continually reach high standards has atelophobia, which is comparable to perfectionism. Perfectionists sometimes have a tendency to be too harsh on oneself, which may have a bad effect on mental health.

Perfectionism is widespread and can be modest, whereas atelophobia is more severe. A person must experience a sufficient negative effect on their daily life and capacity to operate for their fear of imperfection to qualify as a phobia. Many or all of a person’s behaviours and choices may be influenced by their fear.

Signs and Symptoms of Atelophobia

An extreme fear of imperfection is the fundamental sign of atelophobia. It might be hard to concentrate on anything else when one’s thoughts are dominated by worries of being flawed. This might make someone feel:

  • Stressed
  • Afraid
  • Panicked
  • Burned out
  • Angry or irritable
  • Sad

People with atelophobia can also feel:

  • Extremely sensitive to criticism
  • Unable to cope with conflict or pressure
  • A need for constant reassurance
  • Emotionally detached from others

As with other anxiety disorders, atelophobia can also cause physical symptoms, such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep

Causes of Atelophobia

Doctors are unsure about what causes phobias in general. Sometime, a person may pinpoint a particular incident that gave rise to the anxiety. For instance, a person who suffers from atelophobia may have committed a mistake in the past that resulted in significant stress and led to a lifelong phobia of imperfections. Traumatic events are those of this nature.

But not every person who has a phobia can link their anxiety to a specific painful experience. Other elements that might be important are:

  • Experiencing a panic attack in a particular circumstance
  • observing another person get hurt as a result of a certain behaviour or occurrence
  • Hearing a terrible tale about a certain thing or activity

Sometimes, atelophobia may stem from a combination of factors.

Atelophobia vs. Atychiphobia

Atelophobia vs. Atychiphobia

Failure fear is referred to as Atychiphobia. Atychiphobia shares certain characteristics with atelophobia, such as the fear of making mistakes, low self-esteem, and avoidance of activities or objectives.

A person who has Atychiphobia, however, is mostly worried about how a task will turn out. They could experience a great deal of worry if they believe a mistake substantially jeopardies their prospects of achievement. However, it could not worry them if they believe a mistake or error is unlikely to alter the outcome.

A person who has atelophobia, on the other hand, will be afraid of every error or fault, since every apparent problem confirms the underlying idea that they are not good enough as they are.

Atelophobia vs. Social Anxiety

Atelophobia vs. Social Anxiety

A fear of judgement from others is social anxiety. A person may experience anxiety as a result of this in social circumstances or when they perceive others to be monitoring them.

People who struggle with social anxiety may occasionally make an effort to look flawless in order to defy this assessment. From a distance, this can resemble atelophobia.

But the two situations are distinct from one another. People who struggle with social anxiety may not dread flaws in and of themselves; rather, they worry the possibility that others will notice them and the social rejection or exclusion that may result. Regardless of how others may or may not see their imperfections, atelophobia fear them.

Diagnosing Atelophobia

A person’s symptoms, as well as their social, medical, or familial background, are typically used by doctors to diagnose atelophobia. They will accomplish this by probing the subject’s emotions and how worry is impacting them.

They could advise additional tests to rule out potential explanations of the symptoms, such as blood testing or brain imaging scans.

Sometimes, atelophobia co-occurs with other illnesses like depression or other anxiety disorders. These can be identified through a mental health checkup.

Atelophobia Treatment

Atelophobia treatment requires patience and persistence. It could include a mix of:



Talk therapy, often known as psychotherapy, is the primary treatment for phobias. This addresses the underlying ideas and preconceptions that feed the fear.

There are many different kinds of psychotherapy, but exposure treatment is frequently advised by specialists for phobias. This entails exposing a person to their fear gradually by starting with tiny exposures and working up to larger exposures.

For example, a person may begin by sending an email that has a minor spelling error. They go on to the next exposure when they feel at ease doing so and can tell there won’t be any negative effects.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an additional choice. This encourages individuals to fight negative beliefs that fuel their worry in order to gradually replace them with rational ones.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle Changes

sometimes, making lifestyle adjustments might help someone feel less nervous on a daily basis and encourage effective coping mechanisms. They may consist of:

  • Reducing or quitting caffeine use
  • Regularly exercising
  • Practicing breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness meditation practice



In rare circumstances, doctors may recommend medications to treat atelophobia’s symptoms. Although they do not treat the disease, medications can sometimes make it easier to start therapy or handle daily tasks.


The fear of imperfection is known as atelophobia. It can result in a variety of mental and physical problems and is more intense than perfectionism. Although the reason is unknown, variables like a previous traumatic event may be a contributing component.

Atelophobia and social anxiety are relatively similar in that they may both make a person fearful of making errors. They are separate conditions, though. A diagnosis can be made by a medical practitioner or mental health expert.

Treatment may include exposure therapy, CBT, and lifestyle changes to cope with the symptoms. In some situations, a doctor may suggest medications.

CBT, exposure therapy, and lifestyle adjustments to manage the symptoms are all possible forms of treatment. A doctor could advise medications in certain circumstances.


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