Atelophobia – Fear of Imperfection


Atelophobia (Photo credit: Therese Trinko)

While a great number of us are perfectionists, some carry perfection way too far.  Those who do are likely to possess an obsessive compulsive disorder where they expect everyone and everything in their everyday environment to be absolutely perfect.  They aim to seek perfection in every aspect of their life and aren’t happy unless they do.  Such individuals are known to have Atelophobia, the fear of imperfection.

Atelophobia is a word derived from two Greek words: atelos meaning imperfection and phobos meaning fear.  This fear of imperfection is intense and irrational.

Characteristics of People with Atelophobia

People with this disorder strive to make everything as flawless as possible.  They feel an extreme need to keep their homes clean and sanitary.  Likewise, on the job, they make all efforts possible to make sure their work is perfect and that everybody else’s is too.  However, their type of behavior only draws in disappointment and compromised social relationships.  Atelophobia often ruins friendships and marriages as people learn to fear this person and feel whatever they do for him or her, it won’t be good enough.  Some even find it nearly impossible to function in society.

This disorder varies from one person to another.  Those with Atelophobia are likely to suffer from some or all of the following symptoms:

Atelophobia persons are typically highly intelligent and have a great number of talents and skills.  While most people assess their level of competency by comparing themselves with others of similar skills and abilities, Atelophobia causes its victims to set high standards that are impossible to attain.  Some will attempt to improve, rework, or revise something that is already highly satisfactory.  These people have a profuse fear of failure and are worried about disappointing others.

How Atelophobia Is Caused

A person with Atelophobia has a poor self-image.  More than likely, he or she has suffered a traumatic experience during childhood.  This individual may have had parents who were too demanding or set unrealistic expectations that could never be met.  Elders could have reprimanded them harshly while repeatedly making them clear of their faults and weaknesses.  Such a person may feel the need to work hard to in order to prove their personal worth.  Also, this individual may be involved in a highly competitive sport or collegiate program where error is not tolerated.

Treating Atelophobia

Once it has become evident that a person who fears defects cannot function normally in daily life, they may be treated in one or more of the following ways:

If left untreated, Atelophobia can entirely prohibit a victim to function in society.  It will adversely affect one’s personal life, social life, and their performance at work.  If carried too far, it can ruin every aspect of this person’s life.

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One Day a Tailgater Will Learn His(Her) Lesson

English: No Tailgating sign at Apple Inc. office

English: No Tailgating sign at Apple Inc. office (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Christmas Eve night, our family likes to take a late night drive just to see how others have decorated their homes and yards.  As we do, we drive down residential streets we wouldn’t normally travel, at a snail’s pace trying to take in scenes on both sides of the street at once.  Sometimes the brightest lights we see are the headlights of a car beaming in the rear view mirror.  This only makes us wonder why drivers tailgate.

I clearly remember an incident in the 1980s while riding home on a public bus speeding profusely down a busy residential street in North Minneapolis. I mean, the driver was going so ridiculously fast that the whole empty bus was shaking and rattling.   Ahead of him was a cab, of course being tailgated by the bus.  Once the cab driver reached the intersection, he came to a sudden stop forcing the bus driver to stop quickly as well.

The cab driver got out of his car and ran to the entrance of the bus, jumped on and the bus driver yelled to him, “Why did you have to stop so quickly in front of me?”  The cab driver responded in anger, “Why are you riding on my ass for?”  The bus driver stated, “I have a schedule to keep up with, that’s why?”  They looked like they both were about to duke it out right there on the spot.

Of course, I feel that the bus driver was totally out of line.  How stupid of him.  What if the cab passenger’s house was in the middle of the block?  What would happen then?  More likely the front end of the bus would end up in the back seat of the cab.  By adhering to his schedule, would this make a difference in keeping or losing his job?  Most likely not!

One day as you’re driving, you’re trying to find a place where you never stopped at before.  As you’re looking for a particular address, you see in your rear view mirror, a car tagging right behind you.  In fact, this driver is so close, you fear that if you slow down, he or she will rear-end you.  As you know, the person directly behind you is a tailgater.

What do you do now?  Some will pull onto the shoulder and let that person pass.  Others may drive faster in hopes of leaving this troublesome driver behind.

Because there is currently little, if any hard research on this subject, behavioral experts find it hard to state why drivers tailgate.  Leonard Evans, a GM Senior Researcher published a book entitled, Traffic Safety and the Driver.  This book is nicknamed “the bible of traffic research safety.”  In this publication he states:

“Drivers appear to do many things for their own benefit rather than a utility benefit.  It may be done as criminal behavior that’s indulged in for its own sake.”

Not only is tailgating dangerous, it has few, if any real advantages.  Perhaps tailgating is more of a habit than a practically intended strategy.  For some, tailgating gives the driver an extra sense of safety, especially since crashes rarely do occur because of it.  Maybe the driver feels that he/she can’t predict or prepare for situations that might lurk ahead in traffic.  Others may do it subconsciously, not even being aware of it.  By tailgating, some feel they can get to their destination faster.  Oftentimes, it’s a sign of stress.

Hello all you tailgaters out there!  Tailgating is not a safe practice.  It could lead to a crash and possibly an explosion, especially if the car ahead has a full tank of gas.  Likewise, passengers in the car ahead can be injured or killed, not to mention your front end being smashed up.  Is that worth getting to your destination faster?  Absolutely not!  By tailgating, you too can be classified as a murderer.

People That Talk to Themselves

Larry Wall - Perl

Larry Wall – Perl (Photo credit: shaond)

As absurd as it may sound, some people talk to themselves.  They habitually speak out loud with no intention of directing their words towards others.  Maybe it’s the satisfaction they get by letting their emotions out or the need for company.  Why they do it is a very interesting question.

Psychologists refer to this as “private speech.”  However, at times it is notorious.  It may be thought of as an indication that one is not mentally stable.  Some may consider such behavior as abnormal and socially unacceptable.

Children Talk to Themselves

Children who often talk to themselves are often noticed by teachers, parents, babysitters, and casual acquaintances.  Kids may spend more talking to themselves than they do to others.  Some will babble on before they fall asleep and often can be heard through a baby monitor.  As they talk, they summarize events that happened that day or reenact conversations.

Some adults conclude that children who talk to themselves are inattentive, disobedient, or even mentally unstable.  Such a habit helps children promote cognitive development.  Hence, they are able to practice language skills and reflect on their experiences.

By “thinking out loud” children are much more able to keep their impulses under control.  If they are tempted to do something they know is wrong, they’re likely to repeat verbal warnings given by their parents.  When faced with new or challenging situations, for example: jigsaw puzzles, they are more apt to private speech.

Avoiding Silence

Loneliness can be another reason people talk to themselves.  They speak out loud to raise the pleasurable sense they would acquire if another person was present.  Those who’ve encountered an embarrassing situation may talk to themselves about how the event could have been avoided or as a means of defense, responding in a way such as, “Let them think what they want.”  Others may do it as a means of creating a false presence of a loved one they have lost.  This form of behavior is different from hallucination as the speaker realizes the other person is not present.

According to Joseph Jordania, an evolutionary musicologist, many people talk to themselves to avoid silence.  He claims that humans’ ancestors were “social animals” who practiced contact calls as a means of keeping in contact with other members of groups they were part of.  If silence occurred, this was a warning signal that triggered fear or uncomfortable feelings.  Therefore, people talk to themselves as a way of filling in the gaps of long periods of silence.

Misfit Kids

As a kid, a friend of mine, I’ll call him “Larry”, would talk to himself nonstop, sometimes for an hour at a time.  He was a misfit kid and had few, if any friends.  Larry was legally blind and always had trouble learning new tasks and working with his hands.  Developing new skills was awkward and harder for him than it was for everyone else.  He was placed in a foster home at an early age and received a lot of criticism from others and was even thought of as being mentally retarded.  This caused him great humiliation, but after being told it so many times, he learned to believe it.

Nobody seemed to like Larry.  Perhaps it was because he was different and struggled to perform most everyday tasks, like opening a locked door with a key.  Those who’ve observed him couldn’t understand why it was difficult for him to do menial chores that they found easy.  Hence, people looked down on him, called him derogative names, and acted hostile towards him.

During recess he would aimlessly wander around the playground by himself while talking up a storm.  Nobody would approach him or allow him to join in any of their games.  Those that did only asked him questions like “Are you retarded?” or “How many fingers am I holding up?”  Although some seemed friendly towards him, he still had no friends.

This story serves as an example of why children talk to themselves.  Larry really wanted someone to talk to but couldn’t seem to find anyone.  He was always a loner and figured that since he didn’t fit in, he would just talk to himself as a means of externalizing his inner emotions.  By doing so, Larry could make even his deepest thoughts and observations known to himself.

Why Adults Do It

Almost all of us talk to ourselves.  We mutter a statement or two either under our breath or out loud.  Sometimes, it is because of a thought that just entered our mind that we feel strongly about-good or bad.  Other times, we may think of an event or some stimuli that makes us feel guilty about something, as objects or word associations.  For example, when I think of the phrase “new to me” or the like, I think about how reluctant I was to learn a new task on a previous job I had and how I attempted to lay the entire burden on my supervisor.  Shame on me!  If I heard any phrases that reminded me of this incident, I would have to mutter something out loud as a means of releasing the guilt.

Expressing a thought out loud is OK.  You’re letting yourself know that a great idea occurred to you and you ought to act on it.  Also, you may murmur a phrase in an attempt to release a negative inner emotion.  If you treated someone unfairly or avoided a troublesome situation you could have corrected, you will more likely feel guilty about it later.  Once you encounter stimuli that remind you of the event, you may then mumble or shout out something as a way to justify for your guilt.  Just hope that nobody catches you doing it.

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