Fear Of Failure Atychiphobia

Fear Of Failure Atychiphobia

Everyone fails at something every now and then. While failure isn’t always easy to deal with at the time, most of us are able to move on and improve. There is however, a small percentage of people for whom the thought of failure brings about feelings of anxiety and panic.

Atychiphobia is the excessive fear of failure, which can be all-consuming in extreme cases. More minor cases are often able to overcome their anxiety to some degree, though they will still experience huge self-doubt.

Sufferers avoid challenges where success isn’t guaranteed, which can be hugely detrimental to both their personal and professional life. Fortunately, Atychiphobia is treatable and the road to success starts with understanding.


Atychiphobia is often caused in childhood, and is frequently the result of one or more traumatic experiences involving failure. Where embarrassment or punishment is linked to failure, the resulting anxiety felt towards failing again can be extremely long lasting.

Many cases are caused by strict, overbearing parents who set extremely high standards for their children. Often, success and achievement go hand in hand with approval and love in such households, while failure is frowned upon or even punished.

Over time, the fear of failing can intensify to the point where the sufferer will not willingly partake in anything that could result in failure. The subsequent stress often results in further failure, increasing the fear further.

Atychiphobia and various other anxiety issues, can be passed on from other family members. Whether this is a genetic trait, or simply learnt is widely debated. The fear can also be learnt via social conditioning. From a young age, we are exposed to social norms and expectations. By not meeting these standards, one can feel ashamed, and scared to even try.


At the thought of taking on a task that could result in failure, the sufferer may experience the following symptoms.

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Hot or cold flushes
  • Shaking or twitches
  • Feeling of powerlessness
  • Desire to escape

Additional physical and psychological symptoms include stress induced headaches, trouble sleeping and depression. The fear is made worse in that many sufferers believe that by feeling like this and not overcoming it, they have again failed.

Other symptoms include exceptionally high standards, with numerous Atychiphobes reporting tendencies toward perfectionism. When it seems these standards cannot be met, they may suffer anything from intense anger to a full-blown panic attack.

Ultimately, Atychiphobia can lead to sufferers avoiding challenges altogether, unless success is guaranteed. This can be hugely detrimental to their social and professional life, which can often result in demotion, firing or the termination of a relationship. Self-sabotage is not unusual, with sufferers preferring to end something than fail at it.


The most common and effective treatment for Atychiphobia is typically a blend of medication and some form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Be advised that medication cannot cure your Atychiphobia, but it can help reduce the symptoms at the beginning of treatment. Often, Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to increase the level of serotonin in your brain – essential for regulating your emotions.

In conjunction with Exposure Therapy, quick, long lasting results can soon be seen. Patients learn relaxation techniques that they can use to combat anxiety when thinking about failure. With a trained therapist, they will then be gradually exposed to their fear. Instead of giving in however, they will learn to work through avoidance issues and self-sabotage, using the relaxation techniques.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a powerful tool that can also be used to combat Atychiphobia. Either with a trained professional, or by yourself, you can learn various techniques to think more positively, rather than focusing only on failure.

With a therapist, NLP can be used to get to the root of your phobia, and work on ‘reprogramming’ your mind – essentially replacing negative thought processes with positive suggestions. Hypnotherapy can also be used in this way, and can be completed with a therapist or online.

Other self-help techniques focus on changing your mindset and learning coping mechanisms such as positive affirmations and meditation.

In today’s digital world, there are even apps or audio therapy sessions such as subliminals you can download to help rid you of your phobia.


Failure is a perfectly natural part of life, and more often than not leads to greatness. By fearing failure, you limit yourself in countless ways, both professionally and socially. The sad thing is, many Atychiphobes are incredibly talented. By overcoming your fear, you are able to live life to the fullest.

The stress and anxiety felt on a daily basis can be removed, leading to a happier life, with less chance of developing further conditions. Incredible opportunities will begin to present themselves, and new experiences can be enjoyed.

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