This article has been inspired by Gregg Olsen’s Book Starvation Heights.
inda Hazzard had a predestined name. “Hazard”, in English, means risk, obstacle, unforeseen event. Linda Hazzard killed a dozen people, and they willingly paid for it. But who was this Mrs. Hazzard, and what did she do? In the small town of Olalla, somewhere near Seattle, USA, there is a place of a touching wilderness today: a few dilapidated buildings bear witness to a bygone era when the place was bustling with farmers, loggers, and fishermen, who lived their lives in peace. But around 1910, Olalla briefly ran the front pages of newspapers worldwide. The reason: a murder trial, one of those rarely heard of.
Dr. Linda Hazzard, even if she does not deserve such a title as she didn’t even have a medical degree, used unorthodox treatment methods such as full starvation, even to the point of death. You are probably wondering how she was able to practice as a “doctor” even if she didn’t have a degree. This is because she received a license from the Washington Government to become a “job specialist,” this is because there was a high need for medical staff in the 1900s, no matter if they were qualified or not.
From the data gathered from other events of human starvation, it is concluded by specialists that a human can starve to death in as little as eight days. Linda believed that her “treatment” in which the digestive system was resting should have lasted weeks to get the best results. Most of the time, such best results concluded in death through starvation.
Due to the period when medicine was still quite far from pre-modern, many people believed in her “treatment.” One of her better-known patients was Daisy Maud Haglund, who died in 1908 after she followed Linda’s treatment of barely eating anything for 50 days which resulted in starvation.
Linda believed that the main source for most diseases from which human beings suffer is the food they consume, to be more exact with her point, consumption of too much food.
“Appetite is Lust; hunger is Forence. Lust is never satisfied, but Desire is relieved when the Will is nurtured,” Linda wrote in her 1908 book Fasting for the Cure of Disease.
Dr. Linda Hazard even wrote a book about her unorthodox treatment methods, which got quite a bit of attention back in the day. This book was not only used to inform people around the world about such a unique form of treatment for various diseases but also to attract potential patients from all around the world. It is imperative to mention that such treatments were not cheap.
In Gregg Olsen’s book Starvation Heights which gives a very descriptive explanation of this whole story, we see the mention of Claire and Dorothea Williamson, two sisters who fell into Linda’s malpractice. The sisters found out about Linda by seeing her book in a British Columbian newspaper. The sisters complained about suffering from small illnesses such as swollen glands and rheumatic pains that would not make sense to be treated through starvation.
Most of the patients that went through with Dr. Linda’s treatment resided at the Hazzard institute, which was found in a very nice and quiet remote rural area; this was used as another incentive to attract potential patients. The Williamson sisters also mentioned that they liked the location, which made them choose the treatment. Their diet consisted of tomato canned soup, given twice a day. After two months, the sisters went from weighing 60 kilograms each to 30 kilograms, losing half of their weight in just two months.
On August 15, 1911, Kitsap County authorities arrested Linda Hazzard for first-degree murder for starving Claire Williamson. She was also accused of manslaughter due to other patients dying from her treatment.
What is also important to mention is that such treatment is still used by various cultures today. Scientists tried to describe this treatment as more of an influence towards the placebo effect rather than an actual treatment from starvation itself.