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Monday, July 18, 2011

Could it be kakorrhaphiophobia?

(The author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

The article on what motivates people to work has drawn a lot of excitement among the readers. There was an acknowledgement of the fact that many people are driven by various factors to work. This week, I want to dwell on a rather common drive factor for many people. As much as many workers are driven by positive forces, there are those who are driven by negative pressure. One such factor is kakorrhaphiophobia.

According to, kakorrhaphiophobia is an intense, irrational fear of failure or defeat. The person coping with this phobia may fear failure in every single aspect of their life and may feel that they must constantly prove themselves as being better, more able and more competent than others. A kakorrhaphiophobic individual may aggressively compete with peers, family members, co-workers and may obsessively seek acknowledgment of their achievements. This morbid fear of failure can consume the phobic person’s every thought.

The fear of defeat far out matches the drive for success. In every engagement, a person suffering from this condition exerts pressure on himself as they seek not to fail. They are very keen on their relationships with other people and are always on the lookout for possible sabotage by the other workmates. The fear of failure is so deeply rooted that they read malice in most cases when a coworker fails to deliver results as expected. This makes them very strict in their management of people and resources since they would rather lose people than lose the project goals.

Working with people driven by the fear of failure can a strenuous task. It becomes almost impossible to please them. The achievement of results has to be beyond average. Average performance is categorized as failure hence it is never enough until full targets are met as initially prescribed. A kakorrhaphiophobic staff exerts undue pressure not only on themselves but on others. They seek to work for longer hours, not for their love of their job but for fear of not attaining certain marks. To this end, they subconsciously vilify staff who leave the office promptly as they label such practice as a deliberate attempt to sabotage their efforts especially if they are in positions of supervision and management.

There is intense competition for recognition and fight for space by staff being accelerated by fear of failure. They increasingly consider the success of other people as an indication of their own failure. They hence find it difficult to celebrate the success of other people and are quick to find fault with every excellent performance of other people. This makes other staff perceive them as negativists and pessimists. The competition can get so intense that if not well managed, it can generate into a physical fight.

On the flip side, persons who harbor such a fear could on occasions propagate failure for other staff so that their star shines. To such people, if they have to fail, they have to be in the company of other people. It is not acceptable to fail alone. They have to drag other people into the failure picture when they realize it is inevitable. This leads to strained relations at the office as blame is passed to persons who least played a role in the failure of a project. 


  1. the article is very interesting. I think most people have encountered such colleagues in their work place. Didn't know it could have such a long title.

    I wonder if the person with the phobia is aware or can be made aware of it and as one is almost paranoid how they can be approahed.

    Now that there is a name to it is there a cure? Intervention?

    keep informing us.

  2. Vous avez de bons points il, c'est pourquoi j'aime toujours verifier votre blog, Il semble que vous etes un expert dans ce domaine. maintenir le bon travail, Mon ami recommander votre site.

    Mon francais n'est pas tres bon, je suis de l'Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
    Meilleur taux ou Rachat De Credit pass

  3. It is true that this a real challenge many people face with no clue of the way out. The first step is to find out whether you could actually be suffering from this phobia. Only then can you seek the way out. There is no single way out out...the response depends on the manifestation and extent of the phobia.


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