Catch 22

There Is No Way Out

Joseph Heller wrote the novel Catch 22, first published in 1961. The term “Catch 22” is derived from a concept within the book that symbolizes a situation where there is no way to win or resolve due to conflicting rules or conditions.

In the story “Catch 22,” a military rule traps soldiers in circumstances. It states that if a bomber crew member wishes to be deemed insane to avoid flying missions, they can’t be considered insane.

This paradox arises because if they express a desire not to fly missions, it indicates rational thinking—which contradicts insanity. Thus, they find themselves stuck in a quandary.

Why The Number “22” Then?

While “22” doesn’t hold any meaning, Heller likely chose it for its humorous sound. Initially named “Catch 18”, Heller altered it to “Catch 22” after discovering another book titled “Mila 18” had been published concurrently to avoid confusion.

Since the book was released, the phrase “Catch 22” has become part of English, describing a situation in which one is stuck and can’t find a way out due to conflicting rules or circumstances.

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