A situation in which a person is frustrated by a paradoxical rule or set of circumstances that preclude any attempt to escape from them. The name comes from the novel by Joseph Heller (1923-1999), based on his personal experiences, about an American airman's attempts to survive the madness of the Second World War. Heller wrote: "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to."
Related category PARADOXES
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