A basket case is a person who is incapable of coping, usually due to emotional problems or deficits. Basket case may also refer to an organization of some sort that has become helpless. Originally, basket case referred to someone who was physically handicapped. The earliest reference to a basket case comes from The Syracuse Herald in 1919, defining a basket case as “a soldier who has lost both arms and legs and therefore must be carried in a basket.” Over the World War I years and World War II years, the U.S. Surgeon General repeatedly denied that there were any casualties that were literally basket cases, by 1921 the term takes on the more figurative sense of one who is unable to emotionally cope. The plural form of basket case is basket cases.
To find the next basket case, the bank screened for two things: “(a) retail and (b) high yield, EM, and loan products to distinguish risks within the group relative to recent stock action.” (Barron’s Asia)
“Sydney is a basket case,” Shelter NSW executive officer Mary Perkins said. “The most affordable areas are not even within cooee of Sydney.” (The Sydney Morning Herald)
More than three (3) decades of Zanu PF misrule, mis-governance and rampant corruption have virtually reduced Zimbabwe into a basket case. (New Zimbabwe)
The hard truth is, if Channel Zero hadn’t bought CHCH in 2009 from the financial basket case that was Canwest Global Communications, there’s a very good chance the storied Hamilton station might have gone belly up years ago. (The Hamilton Spectator)
Holed up in her apartment, binge drinking, Jessica is a hostile basket case, barely keeping her P.T.S.D. in check, while she spends her nights tracking the ugly adulteries of strangers, confirming her dark view of the world. (The New Yorker Magazine)