Taking our “Here’s Why” from the paper to the blog. An explanation for why something is the way it is in the Air Force/military.
“Quit being such a basket case.” “Keep it together, you’re being a basket case.” Whenever you’re having a moment where you just lose it, the phrase “basket case” is sure to follow.
Surprisingly, its origin stems from the military, and was never intended to define a crazy moment. So where did it come from?
According to Judy Parkinson, author of “Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pajamas,” the derogatory slang term normally used to describe a mentally-ill person or a person unable to function properly, originated in the military around World War I.
It was a slang for soldiers who had lost both arms and both legs, “and because of this, needed to be carried in a basket by others,” Parkinson says.
She writes, “Ironically, the term became widely known through a bulletin aiming to curtail its use. The U.S. Command on Public Information in March 1919 on behalf of Maj. Gen. M. W. Ireland, [and] the U.S. Surgeon General wrote:
“The Surgeon General of the Army…denies…that there is any foundation for the stories that have been circulated…of the existence of ‘basket cases’ in our hospitals.”