Fears Episode 13: Atychiphobia

Atychiphobia is defined as the the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure. It is classified as a type of specific phobia, which means that it amounts to an irrational fear. Between 2 and 5 percent of the American population is affected by it. However, as is the case with many phobias, this represents the number of people who have an actual phobia of failure. Especially with Atychiphobia, we must once again note that the severity of a fear can range quite widely – and most often than not may not even be technically classified as a “fear”. For instance, it would be hard to come across an individual who liked the idea of failure, but still those affected by the phobia are much more rare. Possible signs and symptoms of Atychiphobia may include irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, nausea, overall feelings of dread, nervousness, stomach disorders, flushing of the face, perspiration, muscle tension, tremulousness, and faintness. An Atychiphobe could have an impaired willingness to attempt certain activities thus leading to a loss of self-confidence and motivation, and therefore even depression. Possible causes of Atychiphobia could include demeaning parents or family members, traumatic and/or embarrassing events that arise from minor failure early in life, or an individual experiencing a significant failure and being ill-equipped to effectively cope with it. In addition, some individuals who struggle with phobias have a genetic predisposition toward anxiety, exacerbating their Atychiphobia. Society also plays a role by being inherently competitive, and thus creating another climate where failure has large implications. Society also places much emphasis on perfection, causing an Atychiphobe to base themselves solely on this value. Possible treatments of Atychiphobia may include among others self-help, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SRI), a combination of behavioral /cognitive and medicinal therapies, counseling, the development of healthier belief systems, or more serious and general methods such as hypnotherapy and systematic desensitization.

Fun Fact: Atyches, the root of Atychiphobia, is Greek for “unfortunate”.



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