Hypengyophobia: Fear of Responsibility

Excessive fear of taking responsibility can become paralyzing and affect different dimensions of our lives. In fact, this fear can become the epicenter of a discomfort that ends up dominating the sufferer's mood.
Hypengyophobia: Fear of Responsibility

Last update: 16 November, 2021

The word hypengyophobia may not be familiar to you, but you’ll almost certainly understand its meaning. In fact, hypengyophobia is an irrational and exaggerated fear of responsibility. The sufferer even tends to be afraid of simply imagining themselves in a situation where they must make decisions or take charge.

In hypengyophobia, the fear of responsibilities concerns situations where the sufferer is left to take care of something or has to answer for something in their daily routine. As a matter of fact, we might say that hypengyophobia is a type of fear that prevents people from taking responsibility for any type of activity, decision, or task.

The fear of taking responsibility shows the other side of a common problem in today’s world: the inability to delegate responsibilities. In fact, some people feel that they must always take charge of everything and find it impossible to give up control. Therefore, learning to delegate and distribute responsibilities can be extremely beneficial for their mental health. However, not assuming any responsibility at all is often detrimental to mental health.

In this article, we identify the main characteristics of hypengyophobia, the ways in which it can manifest itself, and the treatments available from the field of psychology.

Woman thinking in fear of responsibilities

Characteristics of hypengyophobia

Perhaps the most important characteristic of this phobia is the tendency to flee from situations that demand responsibility yet don’t generally represent any type of threat. This flight behavior is often accompanied by physical ailments, such as nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, among others.

As with almost all phobias, this excessive response is involuntary and practically uncontrollable. In turn, it generates symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks and negatively affects the sufferer’s self-esteem. The origin of the fear of responsibility can be work, academic, economic, and, in general, social adaptation problems.

The sufferer tends to adopt avoidance behavior which ends up in a vicious circle. In other words, avoiding their responsibilities generates a momentary and brief relief. However, this is replaced by an even greater fear of their perceived incapacity. In fact, it’s as if the response of avoidance enhances their feelings of fear regarding the next upcoming experience. Indeed, running away from their responsibilities, in the end, only worsens the scenario.

Those who suffer from hypengyophobia often behave selfishly, tending to burden others with their responsibilities. Furthermore, they’re extremely hard on them later if things go wrong.

The origin of this phobia isn’t clear. It could be associated with a traumatic event in which the sufferer didn’t achieve a particular aim. Alternatively, perhaps they spent a long time facing excessive demands. Either way, it can be extremely paralyzing. Indeed, we all have to face situations at some time another in our daily lives that demand responsibility.

Types of fears that can appear with hypengyophobia

Depending on the situations in which the fear of responsibility appears, there are specific fears that are associated with hypengyophobia. For example:

Fear of being wrong

The fear of making mistakes is one of the main fears derived from this phobia. The fear of being wrong makes people fall into inaction, blocking their decision-making at the same time.

Fear of not meeting expectations

In the same way, the fear of not living up to certain circumstances or not behaving appropriately appears on a recurring basis. However, often, these expectations are self-constructed and aren’t based on external criteria or external negative evaluations.

Avoidance of negative judgments

Along the same lines, there may be a tendency to avoid negative judgments. For example, sufferers might avoid responsibilities or abandon the execution of a task before finishing it, to avoid an imaginary negative evaluation.

Fear of loss of control

In this case, the phobia is related to the perception of being unable to maintain control of a situation. For instance, the sufferer might avoid responsibility due to the fear caused by the idea of collapsing in public or going blank.

Fear of going unnoticed

Finally, in some cases, the fear of losing the affection of others and of being unpopular also appears. Another related fear concerns the sufferer’s work and efforts ending up being unappreciated.

Man who feels judged

Treatment

To begin with, it’s important to note that, although phobias respond well to psychological treatments, there are no quick fixes.

Professional treatment can include techniques such as mindfulness, graduated exposure, or cognitive restructuring. This type of intervention can be extremely useful in raising awareness of the body’s responses, gradually overcoming stressful situations, and transforming irrational thoughts linked to the origin of this fear.

It might interest you...
Emotional Responsibility
Exploring your mind
Read it in Exploring your mind
Emotional Responsibility

Emotional responsibility includes being responsible for not only our actions and behaviors, but also our thoughts and our feelings. In short, our e...



  • Eski, Y. (2018) A fear of coercion and accountability? Security officers and the non-use of force, Policing and Society, 28:8, 985-998, DOI: 10.1080/10439463.2017.1340292
  • Manrique Tisnés, H., & Gil Congote, L. (2013). Azar, libertad y responsabilidad: aportes para una práctica psicológica. Pensamiento Psicológico11(2). Recuperado a partir de https://revistas.javerianacali.edu.co/index.php/pensamientopsicologico/article/view/589