What is atelophobia? What are the symptoms of atelophobia? What are the causes of atelophobia? Is there a difference between atelophobia and perfectionism?
When perfectionism becomes crippling, you may suffer from atelophobia, a mental illness related to anxiety disorders. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote so well, “perfection is death”!
The etymology of ancient Greek “ atelês ”, (imperfect) and “ Phobos ” (who is the god of panic and rout); followed by the suffix -phobia (“fear”). In other words, Atelophobia, it comes first of “atelês”, for imperfect, and “phòbos” for fear.
Ah, so it’s the fear of the imperfect? Well, we are all imperfect, unless there are perfect people. […]
Atelophobia is the feeling of an irrational fear of mediocrity. This psychological disorder is a lack of self-confidence: the person is constantly worried about not being up to it.
So, atelophobia, it gathers:
-the fear of mediocrity
-the fear of imperfection
-the fear of never being or doing well enough.
And this, at the stage of phobia, i.e panic fear. And like all phobias, it is the cause of severe anxiety, very strong emotional distress (depression, anxiety attacks …) and pushes the phobic person to avoid the situations in which she is confronted with her fear.
2. The Symptoms of Atelophobia
Atelophobia is the fear of being flawed, of not doing things right, of not being good enough. It occurs when the perceived expectations of a person do not correspond to reality. It is an irrational and obsessive form of perfectionism that can lead to crippling inaction and cause many health problems related to stress.
Due to atelophobia, the person cannot have any benchmarks. His relations are seriously affected. In addition, when the person realizes that they have not achieved their goal, it is normal for them to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions.
A person with atelophobia has a panic fear of error, making mistakes without realizing it. Thus, the simplest task can become torture because of the degree of resources that those suffering from this pathology devote to its supervision. They, therefore, take little or no risk.
There are many psychological symptoms that we can identify as features of atelophobia, such as :
– Frequent avoidance behaviors, feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety and fear, fear of losing control, confusion, irritability and lack of concentration.
– Physical symptoms such as fast breathing, frequent dryness of the mouth, palpitations, nausea, headache or excessive sweating may also occur.
3. The Causes of Atelophobia
Nobody knows the true cause of atelophobia. It can be a genetic propensity or a traumatic event. However, it appears that in most cases it is an acquired reaction that begins at an early age and, with age, intensifies and becomes chronic.
Atelophobia is a specific phobia focused on key non-social factors. Some phobias tend to be caused by past traumas, often occurring during childhood, that have affected the physical integrity of the affected person.
Education can also play an important role in the development of atelophobia, such as the parental warning of a direct threat, which is particularly noticeable in cases where the threat is more imminent (allergies or insect attacks, for example).
Also, it is believed that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, particularly those related to the danger of injury. For example, a primary “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition.
In all types of phobias, external experiences or reports can reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or an affected friend; in extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as varied and far-reaching as hearing a reference in a conversation or being aware of a particular news item.
Atelophobia, like most phobias, stems from a mechanism of subconscious overprotection and, as is the case with many phobias, can also be rooted in unresolved emotional conflict. Demanding parents who accept only perfection and teachers who are too strict can become central triggers for future mental disorders, including the fear of not being up to the task.
4. The Difference Between Atelophobia and Perfectionism
Atelophobia has a lot to do with perfectionism, but it’s not the same thing. There is a fundamental difference between the two concepts. It is true that people who suffer from atelophobia often make perfection their goal and do not reach it simply because it is impossible.
But atelophobia is not limited to setting high standards. The problem is that this phobia paralyzes and blocks reinforcement instead of motivating. Many perfectionists react to anxiety by working harder. People with atelophobia choose inaction to avoid possible failures.
In addition, perfectionism often manifests itself as a desire for personal accomplishment and success. This vision, even if it has disadvantages, can make a person better and allow him to be fulfilled. However, atelophobia does not like this point either.
Learning to aspire to “good enough” is a quality that often generates well-being. In this respect, author Olga Khazan writes: “It can be difficult in our culture to force oneself to be satisfied with ‘good enough’. But when it comes to happiness and satisfaction, ‘good enough’ is not only good, it’s perfect.
The perfection found in atelophobia becomes a threat that a person can hardly escape. In reality, it usually causes paralysis that ends with any attempt to achieve a certain goal. Not only does this frame generate frustration, but it is also very destructive to the self-esteem of the person, the one who feels overwhelmed and trapped in his own fear.
Since you are terrified of making a mistake, giving an incorrect answer, or your work – or your person – is flawed, you are pushing perfectionism very, very, very far.
In general, an atelophobic person poses rather improbable or impossible standards. Draw perfectly straight lines at the nano-millimeter by freehand for example. And if she has had the misfortune to move, even in a very small way, she will prefer to start again by screaming that it’s ugly and that she is nil rather than saying that it will be very good. Even if it takes a magnifying microscope to see the miniscule defect.
She is extremely critical of herself and her work. So that everything is perfect, she is always looking for her mistakes. Instead of seeing all as a good achievement, she will always look for the little thing that makes it ugly, badly said, not precise enough, in short, you see the table?
So an atelophobe spends his life seeing everything in black rather than shades of gray… ”
Especially since, suddenly, this person will tend to refrain from doing things to avoid harm if they are not 100% certain that she has the capacity for example. Or she will prefer to do nothing, without going so far as to forbid it.
By wanting to be perfect, the person can trigger a mental illness related to anxiety disorders.
The beliefs, the fears, the ideas received nourish this phobia. It can take an obsessive and irrational form, translated by significant stress and crippling.