What Does the Term “Basket Case” Mean and Where Did the Expression For an Unstable Person Originate?

A “basket case” is a derogatory reference to someone considered unstable and has a very sad origin.

During the First World War, because some soldiers were so badly maimed or shell-shocked that a stretcher wouldn’t hold them, they were carried off the field in wicker baskets.

In 1919, after the war, the dark expression “basket case” began being cruelly applied to anyone with an impairment, either physical or mental.