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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