Ataxophobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

The Ataxophobia Is excessive and irrational fear of disorder. That is, it is the phobia of disordered and / or misplaced elements.

People who suffer from this disorder experience high feelings of anxiety when things are not organized to their liking. For this reason, it is often very common not to let others approach their personal affairs.

Desperate Helpless Woman In Messy Room Home.

Likewise, subjects with ataxophobia have the firm belief that only they can organize. That is, when something is messed up, it has to be the organizer.

It should also be noted that fear of disorder can affect both physical elements (a disordered room) and functional elements (performing an activity, specifying the personal agenda, etc.)

Ataxophobia can greatly limit the day to day of the person. This can only participate in activities that are properly organized, and may present a huge need for permanent order.

In the present study we will analyze the characteristics of ataxophobia. We will explain its symptoms, its causes and the treatments that are useful to overcome the fear of the disorder.

Characteristics of ataxophobia

Ataxophobia is part of the famous group of disorders known as Specific phobias . These alterations are characterized by an irrational fear of an element or a specific situation.

In the case of ataxophobia, the dreaded situation is disorder. So this disorder can be understood as"the clutter phobia".

Specific phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. This fact is due to the response that the people who suffer them when they expose themselves to their feared elements.

Thus, an individual with ataxophobia will experience an extreme intensity anxiety response each time he is exposed to a disorder situation. Being the anxiety you experience in those situations is much higher than you can experience at any other time.

Ataxophobia is considered a persevering disorder. In this way, the fear of disorder does not disappear if it is not properly intervened.

Ataxophobia or obsession for order?

Ataxophobia is not the same as the obsession for order, but both elements can concur in the same person.

The obsession with order does not imply having fear of disorder. Thus, both alterations are distinguished by the phobic component.

Irrational and excessive fear of disorder is a specific element of ataxophobia. The presence of phobic fear defines the existence of ataxophobia, and its absence reveals the absence of the disorder.

Beckham British footballer David Beckham acknowledged that he suffers ataxophobia

However, a clear obsession for order in subjects with ataxophobia can very often be observed. Thus, both concepts can coexist in the same person, but they are not synonymous.

A person may experience obsession for order but not fear the disorder and not present ataxophobia. In the same way that a subject can experience ataxophobia without presenting a clear obsession with order.

Fear of disorder

As with all types of phobias, the fear of disorder experienced in ataxophobia has a number of characteristics.

In fact, the emotion of fear is a very common response among humans, and the feared elements can be manifold, including clutter.

Thus, not all fears of disorder involve the presence of ataxophobia. In order to establish the presence of this disorder, the fear experienced must present the following requirements.

1- Disproportionate

The fear of disorder must be disproportionate to the demands of the situation.

In itself, disorder does not pose any danger to people, so fear of such situations is often quickly identified as phobic.

However, the fear experienced must be exaggeratedly intense and highly disproportionate. A neutral element should be interpreted as highly feared and cause a high response of anxiety .

2- Irrational

The fear of disorder must also be irrational, that is, it can not be explained through reason.

The individual is aware that his fear is not sustained by any evidence to justify his presence, and he is totally unable to reason why he experiences it.

3- Uncontrollable

The subject with ataxophobia knows that their fear of disorder is irrational. It is highly disagreeable to have this type of fear and would probably prefer not to experience it.

However, he is not able to manage the phobia since his fear of the disorder is out of his voluntary control.

4- Disadaptive

Non-phobic fears fulfill a clear adaptive function, that is, allow the individual to adapt better to the environment.

For a fear to be adaptive, it must respond to a real threat. For this reason, the fear of ataxophobia is not considered as adaptive.

In fact, phobic fear of disorder is maladaptive because it not only does not allow the subject to adapt better to his environment, but also makes it difficult for him to adapt. Ataxophobia can limit the person's functionality and lead to negative consequences.

5- It leads to avoidance

When a person with ataxophobia is exposed to situations of disorder experiences high feelings of anxiety and discomfort, due to the intensity of fear that suffers.

This fact Avoidance of dreaded situations , Since it is the form that the subject with ataxophobia has to avoid the discomfort they cause.

In this way, the person can completely avoid exposing himself to situations in which unordered elements are present.

Likewise, ataxophobia can also lead to multiple organizational behaviors, since in this way the subject also manages to eliminate the disordered elements and, therefore, their phobic stimuli.

6- Persevering

The fear of ataxophobia is continuous and persevering. This means that it appears in any situation in which the individual interprets the presence of disorder.

There are no situations with disorder in which phobic fear does not appear, since it always appears invariably.

In addition, the fear of ataxophobia disorder is not limited to a particular stage or stage. When the disorder develops, it persists over time and does not disappear.

Thus, the need for treatment exhibited by ataxophobia is demonstrated. If not properly intervened, the alteration is not resolved and the phobic fear of disorder remains.


Ataxophobia produces a clear anxious symptomatology, which appears whenever the subject is exposed to its feared elements, that is, to disorder.

The anxiety manifestations of ataxophobia may vary slightly in each case.

However, all the symptoms that can provoke the ataxofobia are included within the typical ones Signs of anxiety . Likewise, in all cases the physical component as well as the mental and behavioral components are affected.

Physical component

Ataxophobia causes an increase in the activity of the autonomic nervous system . This increase in activity is caused by fear and the alarm signal that lights up when the subject is exposed to the disorder.

The physical symptoms caused by ataxophobia may vary slightly in each case. However, some of the following manifestations are always present.

  1. Increased respiratory rate.
  2. Increased heart rate.
  3. Tachycardias.
  4. Excessive increase in sweating.
  5. Pupil dilation.
  6. Muscle tension and / or stiffness.
  7. Stomach pains and / or head .
  8. Feeling of choking.
  9. Nausea and / or dizziness.
  10. Feeling of unreality.

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms refer to all thoughts that an individual experiences with ataxophobia when exposed to situations of disorder.

Thoughts can be very variable but always contain negative aspects, both on the threat of the situation and on the personal capacities to deal with it.

Thoughts about the disastrous consequences of disorder, the imperious necessity of ordering, or the need to remain in an organized space, are some examples of the cognitions that a person with ataxophobia can make.

These thoughts increase the state of anxiety and feed back with physical sensations to increase fear and nervousness Regarding the disorder.

Behavioral symptoms

The anxiety that causes the exposure to the dreaded element causes an immediate alteration of the behavior of the subject.

Behavior will no longer be guided by reason and will begin to function through the demands dictated by the emotions of fear and anxiety.

Among the most common behaviors that ataxophobia can cause are:

  1. Avoidance of situations with disorder.
  1. Organizational Behaviors.
  1. Highly meticulous and organized lifestyles.
  1. Performing only well-ordered activities.
  1. Avoidance of other people being able to control or modify personal matters, so that they do not mess them up.
  1. Isolation to preserve order.


The elements that give rise to specific phobias are now in the research phase.

What does seem clear is that there is no single cause that motivates the development of a specific phobia. At present, there is a high consensus in affirming that multiple factors participate and are fed back in the formation of phobias.

In the case of ataxophobia, the factors that seem to play a more important role in the etiology of the disorder are:

Classical conditioning

To have been exposed as a child to educational styles and paternal referents in which a great value to the order and to the organization can be a relevant factor.

The rejection of disorganization and the clear preference for order seem to be elements that develop during the first years of life. For this reason, fear conditioning towards disorder may become particularly important during the early stages of life.

Vicarious conditioning

As with classical conditioning, visualize Behaviors of high obsession By order, can also participate in the development of ataxophobia.

Also, receiving permanent information about the negative aspects of the disorder could also influence.

Cognitive factors

Unrealistic beliefs about the harm that could be incurred if exposed to the dreaded stimulus, attentional biases toward phobia-related threats, low perceptions of self-efficacy, or exaggerated perceptions of danger are elements that may be involved in the development of phobias.

Specifically, it is considered that these factors related to thinking would be especially relevant in the maintenance of ataxophobia, and not so much in the genesis of the disorder.


Ataxophobia may motivate a significant change in the subject's behavior. It can deprive it of the accomplishment of multiple activities, limit the spaces in which it is comfortable and demand the constant realization of conduct of order.

These elements can greatly reduce the quality of life of the subject, as well as produce high feelings of discomfort when exposed to the feared stimuli.

For this reason, it is very important Treat the disorder , With the aim of overcoming fears and resolving ataxophobia.

The first choice treatment for this type of alterations is psychological therapy, which is much more effective than psychotropic drugs.

Specifically, the Cognitive-behavioral treatment Has very high levels of efficacy and is the best solution for the disorder.

This type of psychotherapy Focuses on exposing the subject to its feared elements. The exhibition is done in a gradual and controlled way, and the objective is to get the individual to remain in situations of disorder without escaping from it.

Through gradual exposure, the person will gradually become accustomed to their feared elements, and will lose the fear of disorder.

On the other hand, they are usually applied Relaxation techniques To reduce anxiety and facilitate exposure to the disorder. Cognitive techniques also allow the elimination of distorted thoughts about disorder.

Do you feel you are also identified with this disorder? Let us know your daily experiences and how they affect you!


  1. Beesdo K, Knappe S, Pine DS. Anxiety and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: developmental issues and implications for DSM-V. Psychiatr Clin North Am 2009; 32: 483-524.
  2. Mineka S, Zinbarg R. A contemporary learning theory perspective on the etiology of anxiety disorders: it is not what you thought it was. Am Psychol 2006; 61: 10-26.
  3. Wittchen HU, Lecrubier Y, Beesdo K, Nocon A. Relationships among anxiety disorders: patterns and implications. In: Nutt DJ, Ballenger JC, editors. Anxiety Disorders. Oxford: Blackwell Science; 2003: 25-37.
  4. Ost LG, Svensson L, Hellstrom K, Lindwall R. One-session treatment of specific phobias in youth: a randomized clinical trial. J Consult Clin Psychol 2001; 69: 814-824.
  5. Wittchen HU, Beesdo K, Gloster AT. The position of anxiety disorders in structural models of mental disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am 2009; 32: 465-481.

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..