I'd like to know what this situation is called.

The gist is the only way you can stop something is by doing it first.

A real world example is a MS Windows feature called sticky keys. You can turn on sticky keys by pressing the shift key 5 times in quick succession. It will then make a beep. Every time the shift key is pressed another beep will occur.

Now someone says that the beep from pressing the shift key must stop (no speaker control) but the shift key must still be usable.

The only way to turn off sticky keys is to press the shift key 5 times in quick succession resulting in further beeps. The 6th press will not produce a beep.

Anyway, hope that makes sense.

I don't believe this is a catch 22 but correct me if I'm wrong.

  • An auto-destruct button? Apr 15, 2021 at 13:23
  • 1
    "To turn on 'sticky keys', press the Shift Key five times in quick succession, To turn off 'sticky keys', repeat that action."
    – Greybeard
    Jan 10 at 19:23
  • Some examples may fall under the heading of preventive maintenance, where you deliberately interrupt service of machinery for a relatively short period at an opportune time to perform maintenance that helps ensure there aren't inconvenient, even longer interruptions during the upcoming period or an important event/task.
    – DjinTonic
    Jan 10 at 22:09
  • ‘Sticky key’ functionality may toggled by pressing the Shift key five times in quick succession.
    – k1eran
    May 10 at 20:06
  • You can turn sticky keys on and off from the Windows keyboard settings dialog. This reads like a rant rather than a real question, and is very hard to answer without a genuine example of a situation where the only way you can stop something is by doing it first.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 8 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


This is an example of Catch 22. Wikipedia has

A "Catch-22" is "a problem for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule."

Your case is certainly simpler than that faced by Orr and Yossarian, but it's still a requirement to implement a fix to a problem which prevents the fix being implemented.

  • 1
    I don't think this is a catch 22 situation. It's not that a fix is not possible, but that the fix is achieved by repeating the same action that lead to the problem in the first place.
    – cigien
    Apr 15, 2021 at 16:09
  • 1
    I don't think it's a Catch 22 situation either, you can avoid setting Sticky Keys by not pressing <shift> five times (and not holding it down either). A Catch 22 situation is one like the positon of someone who can't get a job because they have no experience but can't get the experience without a job.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 15, 2021 at 22:40
  • The question was about turning off sticky keys without making a noise. That's not possible.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 16, 2021 at 6:46

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