Human communication is complex (see Albert Mehrabian) and context is an essential part of it.
For a double bind to be effective, the subject must be unable to confront or resolve the conflict between the demand placed by the primary injunction and that of the secondary injunction.
In this sense, the double bind differentiates itself from a simple contradiction to a more inexpressible internal conflict, where the subject really wants to meet the demands of the primary injunction, but fails each time through an inability to address the situation's incompatibility with the demands of the secondary injunction.
For example, this situation arises when a person in a position of authority imposes two contradictory conditions but there exists an unspoken rule that one must never question authority.
Gregory Bateson and his colleagues defined the double bind as follows Thus, the essence of a double bind is two conflicting demands, each on a different logical level, neither of which can be ignored or escaped.
A person could be subpoenaed to testify in a federal case and given Fifth Amendment immunity for testimony in that case.