WHAT IS A Catch-22? Most of us have heard this phrase before but did you know it actually came from a book first published in 1961? A Catch-22 is situation where the choices for a solution are equally undesirable or a rule that guarantees the opposite of the intended effect. Are you confused? Maybe it will make more sense if you read the book by Joseph Heller. It is often considered a humorous tale set during World War II that follows the life of Captain John Yossarian. Yossarian and his airmen try to keep their own sanity while fulfilling the orders of their commanders.