What is Kakorrhaphiophobia

A fear of failure is called as Kakorrhaphiophobia. It is a specific phobia in which a person suffers from extreme anxiety when unable to achieve their goals. Sufferers lose confidence in themselves and experience low self-esteem. This loss of confidence induces more anxiety for the sufferer which can cause a person to have full-blown panic attacks. If you have ever wondered what is Kakorrhaphiophobia, this article will tell you more. For details about my hypnotherapy sessions for phobias, click here. 


What is Kakorrhaphiophobia


Everyone fears failure. Success is the driving force that propels a person to overcome fears and achieve predetermined goals. Feeling nervous or fearful about the idea of failing is normal. But when this fear and nervousness turns into excess amounts of anxiety, the fear transforms into a phobia. Thus, people suffering from Kakorrhaphiophobia may experience procrastination, panic attacks or severe anxiety when they think about failure.


What is Kakorrhaphiophobia anxiety?


A person’s anxiety is valid up to the point that, in this competitive environment he is fearful of being left behind or unsuccessful. However, if in excess, this can lead to dangerous consequences. Fear alone cannot push a person to success. With it, a person needs also the motivation, self-confidence and determination to succeed and achieve in life. In Kakorrhaphiophobia, a person just fears failure and does very little to gain success because of the anticipation that they might fail/loose again.

This anticipation within itself is a paralyzing factor. As DSM-V suggests, anxiety caused by a specific phobia affects a person’s social and occupational life. People leave their families or jobs behind, as an act to escape route, running away fearing failure. This is a result of low self-esteem. These low levels of self-confidence can also lead a person to develop depression.

Sufferers avoid their fear or anxiety. The path of success is gradual, the sufferer looks for an immediate way of winning over his failure or escaping their feeling. As a result, they might look for the wrong ways of overcoming his anxiety for example taking drugs in order to calm their nerves down. These people can become addicts because they seek pleasure, rather than facing the pain or possible failure.


What is Kakorrhaphiophobia? It’s the irrational, persistent fear of failure.


Symptoms of Kakorrhaphiophobia

People with Kakorrhaphiophobia experience intense anxiety upon encountering failure/on the thought of it. They’re unable to control this anxiety and thus, end up feeling more anxious. This anxiousness, in extreme cases can give rise to full-blown panic attacks. Sufferers go into flight or fight mode because of an adrenaline rush.


Kakorrhaphiophobia symptoms include:


  • Extreme anxiety when worried about failure
  • panic attacks
  • Low self-esteem
  • Uncomfortable starting something new
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to sleep
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Butterflies in the stomach


To be diagnosed with Kakorrhaphiophobia, a person must experience at least six months of anxiety and three to five symptoms out of the list mentioned above.


Causes of Kakorrhaphiophobia


Kakorrhaphiophobia, like many phobias has no known cause. It may be a result of a number of factors such as biological (genetics) and or environmental (past experiences or social learning). A person with a family history of a phobia/mental disorder has a higher chance of having the same disorder in the future. According to this, a person with a genetic predisposition will not develop symptoms of Kakorrhaphiophobia until and unless there is some trigger event. Whatever the case is, it is quite evident that both genetics and environmental factors play significant roles in development of a specific phobia.


A fun video explaining how to pronounce this phobia


Treatment for Kakorrhaphiophobia


Kakorrhaphiophobia, like all other specific phobias has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed for it.


  • Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy targets the  subconscious thoughts that run a phobia. Hypnotherapy for phobias is very effective and is the primary tool I use with clients at my London clinic. Hypnotherapy is also extremely effective when combined with some the approached listed below.

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

It is a person of the most frequently used treatment for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Kakorrhaphiophobia is defined as the irrational fear of failure. Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational a persons. The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about failing. Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts. The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.

The ABCD stands for:

  1. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
  2. B (belief) the thought that comes to a person’s mind when in that triggering situation.
  3. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
  4. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs. This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is a meditation therapy, is used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions. Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions. Lectures and group discussions are also da person to talk about mental health and increase interactivity. In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process. This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing. For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.

  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

This is another effective therapy used to treat Kakorrhaphiophobia. It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobias. Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).

  • Yoga/Meditation

They are not just a person of the many treatment therapies used for Kakorrhaphiophobia, instead they are a person of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people. Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of a person’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture. Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts. Out of a number of yoga types, a person can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is a person of the different types of yoga. The breathing techniques or the imagery a person creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts of failing.