Atellophobia: What is it? Causes, Symptoms, Consequences and Treatment

It is an irrational fear of imperfection.

Etymologically speaking, the word atelophobia is made up of two Greek words; the prefix atelo (s) means imperfect and the postfix phobia means fear. Therefore, the word atelophobia literally means that they fear being imperfect.

Atelophobic aversion to blemish can take two forms; a fear of imperfection and personal failure.

An atelophobic will become obsessed with the cleanliness of your home, the perfection of what you wear, and how well you do your job. People who have this psychological conditioning are called atelophobes.

This mental illness is a condition in which a person’s normal thinking, behavior, and responses are affected.

Atelophobia is classified as an anxiety disorder like most phobias and is therefore the specialty of mental health professionals. The person sets a goal, which he considers perfect.

Unfortunately, that goal cannot be achieved. This makes the person miserable and loses more self-confidence, strengthening their belief that they can never do anything right.

They are usually depressed when their daily reality does not match their expectations.

Causes of atelophobia

The causes of atelophobia can vary in different people. This is due to the different circumstances that a person faces at different stages of their life, particularly in childhood.

Atelophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, focused on key non-social factors.

Isolated phobias tend to have some prior trauma, often in childhood and physically damaging, as a root cause. The fear of bees may be due to an injury in childhood, for example.

Parenting can also play a role in the emergence of phobias, such as parental warnings of a direct threat, which is especially noticeable in cases where a threat is more imminent.

Genetics and some hereditary factors can play a role in phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury.

In all phobias, experiences and other external agents can reinforce or develop fear, as is the case of observing another affected person close to them.

In extreme cases, indirect situations that are remote such as a reference to a conversation, watching newspapers, television or movies, can have an effect on the individual’s phobia.

Atellophobia, generally comes from an excessive subconscious protection mechanism and can also be established from an unresolved emotional conflict.

If a person has faced difficult situations in childhood, he may develop atelophobia.

If he is severely criticized in every act unnecessarily at that age, the child will have the feeling that everything he does has mistakes.

Over time, this feeling grows stronger until it becomes a belief.

Atelophobia can also develop in children that their parents constantly compare to other children.

Although parents generally intend to teach and help them get rid of bad habits, these kinds of comparisons have serious consequences.

The nature of a person is also the cause of mental illness. If a person is very sensitive, this sensitivity can also become a cause of atelophobia.

Some people take competition very seriously, making it difficult for them to face failure. They are also highly critical and discouraged when someone makes a negative comment about their work. This leads to less confidence in one’s own abilities.

When the person is extremely nervous and self-conscious, these feelings alone can interrupt their work and ruin it.

This, unfortunately, leads to even bigger failures and even lower self-confidence.

Some people have a natural tendency to fear or worry. These people are more prone to atelophobia.

In some people, physical problems, such as malfunctioning of the adrenal glands, can lead to atelophobia.


The individual suffering from atelophobia begins to develop all the symptoms of an anxiety attack, including excessive sweating, panic attacks, hyperventilation, excessive heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, irritability, poor concentration and confusion.

Also irritability, feelings of helplessness, fear or feelings of loss of control, avoidance behavior, headaches, obsessive behaviors among other symptoms.

Consequences of atelophobia

As a result of this mental illness, the person cannot cope with other normal people in society.

Relationships are severely affected. When the person does not reach his goal of “perfect”, he becomes depressed. The depression itself is dangerous in its own way.

Although the atelophobic is intelligent and talented like anyone else, his abilities are masked by fear of losing, he does not compete with anyone, nor does he accept any challenge.

This fear of imperfection can inhibit them from doing something productive, because they think that they will not do it well and will disappoint those around them and themselves.

This phobia can be especially inhibiting at work, when making decisions. Their atelophobic condition leads them to avoid responsibility at all costs.

There are other types of people who are not necessarily inhibited by this condition in the sense that they avoid responsibility but are inhibited in psychosocial development.

These people fear imperfection to the extent that they obsessively ensure that every task they complete is performed according to their perceived degree of perfection.

These are the perfectionist and pure fanatics of our society and they develop obsessive compulsive disorders.

People with this disorder are bombarded with intrusive thoughts of worry, fear, and apprehension.

They exhibit repeated behavior, such as excessive washing or cleaning, and are generally concerned with most minor details.

We live in a society that defines perfection and then demands that this standard of perfection be met. If not, society is quick to slander the marginalized who do not meet its expectations.

These artificially created standards of perfection often act as a definitive marker of success within society, and of course, those who do not meet these standards are quickly labeled as failures.

Failure is the atelophobic’s greatest fear. They fear being marginalized, not living up to expectations and, above all, criticism.

This disorder of the mind is also often found in people suffering from anorexia or bulimia.

These people are obsessed with meeting society’s standards of beauty and literally starve to death. This is an example where atelophobia can be harmful to health. It is very important to treat this condition in order to lead a normal life.

This disease can greatly decrease the quality of life of the sufferer and of the people around them, since it is not easy for the average person to deal with people who have obsessive behaviors.


The atelophobic is very anxious all the time. Before starting therapy, anxiety should be controlled with medication.

Once administered, they temporarily control the patient’s tension, allowing the therapist to speak adequately with the atelophobic and initiate other types of treatments.

Anti-anxiety medications can also control some physical conditions and depression that a person faces due to failures and inability to cope with them.

There is no specific medication for atelophobia. In fact, drugs can mask the general symptoms of atelophobia temporarily.

This suggests that the person is now receiving treatment and does not need additional help.

However, after a while, the effect of the drugs begins to diminish and the person shows more severe atelophobia.

Therefore, psychological therapy is the only good way to treat this problem. Within these therapies, the following are usually used:

Will power is an important factor that helps a person suffering from mental illness.

No one can treat a patient until that person wants to be treated and does their part to initiate a change in behavior.

If a person really wants to be normal and wants to get rid of his fear, then he can.

To achieve this, the person must have hope and must be sure that he can lead a normal life in which small mistakes do not matter as much as he thinks.

The cause must be found, as there are different factors that can lead to atelophobia in different people.

Whatever the cause in a particular person, discovery plays an important role in treatment.

The therapist can convince the person that what he is afraid of does not matter. He has to destroy the roots of atelophobia to treat it forever.

For example, if you have a demanding past, you should be convinced that it was the situation due to which you could not carry out the task, and it was not your fault.