‘Paralysis by analysis’ – a phrase often used in the American business context – describes over-thinking that leads to a reluctance to make a decision, and in doing so exhausts the available time in which to act.
In Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Cat the fox boasts of hundreds of ways of escaping while the cat has only one. When they hear the hunting dogs approaching, the cat climbs quickly up a tree while the fox in his confusion was caught. The moral: “Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.” In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes of Hamlet’s flaw of thinking too much: “sicklied over with the pale cast of thought.”
Analysis: ‘In the final (or last) analysis’ means when everything has been considered. This phrase is used to suggest that a statement expresses the basic truth about a complex situation. Late 16th century. Medieval Latin from Greek analusis, from analuein unloose.
Reluctance: Unwillingness or disinclination to do something. Ambivalence: The state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. Hesitation: The action of pausing or waiting before saying or doing something.