Atelophobia: A Fear of Not Being Good Enough

Atelophobia is an anxiety disorder where the afflicted person feels like all they do is wrong. It comes from Greek atelès, meaning “imperfect” or incomplete.

Do you fear failure? Imperfection? Or that everything you do is simply not good enough? Do you think you might be atelophobic? Read on and find out.



Atelophobia is a mental illness whose symptoms manifest mentally, emotionally and physically. Mental symptoms include being clouded by the fear, always having a pessimistic view, extreme disappointment on failure, depression and an unrealistic response to a situation.

Emotional symptoms manifest as constant worrying, a desire to walk away from situations and excess levels of emotions (such as anger, sadness, jealousy, hurt). Just like other mental illnesses, atelophobia can manifest physically such as stress, nausea, panic attacks, chest pains, insomnia, shaking, nervous mannerisms and hyperventilation.


If you suspect anyone, including yourself, suffers from this disorder, it’s best to approach a health care professional. A major step towards recovery is to undergo therapy and other prescribed methods include:

Exposure Therapy

This involves exposing the patient to highly stressful situations in order to overcome the anxiety. It involves evaluations, develops fear hierarchy, exposure and building. The treatment helps the patient develop tolerance over stressful situations and to instill how unrealistic thoughts of perfection can be.

It is important to seek a trustworthy therapist of whom the patient can develop a working relationship with. The therapist must also be able to assist the patient in breathing and relaxation exercises in order to cope with and overcome the situation.

Behavior Therapy

This incorporates certain exercises in order to alter patterns of thinking. It is believed that such patterns of thinking are developed by the patient and this is where Atelophobia comes from.

Other Therapies

There are other methods that can help in recovery. Such methods include self-help, talk therapy, and medication.

Self-help involves the patient taking the problem into their own hands since the patient is the only person capable of curing himself or herself.

Talk Therapy is a method wherein the patient pours over the details of their problem(s) to a psychiatrist.

Medication involves prescription drugs and should only be taken as a final option and following the advice of a health care professional.


Atelophobia makes a normal life difficult. The person experiences extreme anxiety when they have to face other people. While competition is natural for people, the atelophobic struggles with it. A person that loses may be disappointed but gets over it and is able to control their feelings. Meanwhile, an atelophobic becomes extremely depressed and starts doubting their own skills. This doubt further masks their abilities. Every disappointment moves them further into depression.

Living with this illness gets worse over time as the person is unable to cope and does not receive professional help. Atelophobia is capable of destroying relationships and makes the person very difficult to communicate with other people.