Atychiphobia is an intense fear of failure. It may cause you to put off or avoid any activity or scenario that has the potential for an unsuccessful outcome. Someone with this condition may be scared to try new things, take risks or embrace growth for fear of failure.
Atychiphobia is an intense fear of failure. It comes from the Greek word “atyches,” meaning "unfortunate.”
People with atychiphobia may avoid any situation where they see a potential for failure, such as an exam or job interview. It can also mean being afraid of a failed relationship, a failed career or being a disappointment to others.
The fear often becomes self-fulfilling. For example, if you’re so scared of failing a test that you refuse to take the test, you may end up failing an entire class.
Fear of failure can lead to a broad range of emotional and psychological problems, including shame, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or low self-esteem. It may negatively affect how you perform at school or work, or how you interact with friends and family members.
Atychiphobia is different from atelophobia, which is a fear of imperfection.
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Atychiphobia and perfectionism have some similarities, but they’re different conditions. Perfectionism means you try to be flawless and have an intense focus on success. Someone with atychiphobia focuses on failure and battles feelings of panic, worry or doom about what could happen if failure happens. Extreme perfectionism can escalate into atelophobia.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes an overwhelming sense of fear about an object, situation or event. The fear might seem irrational to others, but the person with the phobia feels genuinely scared, threatened and at risk.
It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like atychiphobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.
Possible causes of atychiphobia may include:
People with a fear of failure may be:
Atychiphobia can also cause panic attacks, which may lead to:
There aren’t any tests to diagnose the fear of failure. Your healthcare provider can diagnose the condition based on discussions with you about:
Your healthcare provider collects detailed information about your fear of failure. They may ask a variety of questions, such as:
Your healthcare provider will also try to determine if you have any other mental health disorders, like:
There is a variety of ways to manage a fear of failure, including:
Phobias aren’t usually preventable, but you can take steps to reduce their severity:
Most people respond well to treatments such as psychotherapy, lifestyle adjustments and medication. In fact, studies show that about 90% of people with a phobia can overcome the condition with exposure therapy.
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Atychiphobia is an extreme fear of failure. Someone with this condition may procrastinate or avoid any situations where they don’t feel they’ll be completely successful. They may set unrealistic goals for themselves, which only increases the possibility of failure. If you have severe worry or panic at the thought of failing, talk to your healthcare provider. Most people can overcome this phobia with psychotherapy.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/23/2022.
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