Starvation Heights – Gregg Olsen

“Appetite is Craving; Hunger is Desire. Craving is never satisfied; but Desire is relieved when Want is supplied,” – Linda Burfield Hazzard
Image of book cover Starvation Heights
This my second reading of the book. It’s always a fascinating and horrifying thing to bear witness to the ways the mind can be manipulated by others. Often, it’s psychological malice and most times its greed that can propel such behaviours in others, although of course there are many reasons why one may manipulate another comes to mind.

This book is based on a true account of what happened in Olalla, Washington, a very small town, in Seattle, Washington with a Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard and her patients and what took place there in the 1900s.

Gregg Olsen did an amazing job weaving the accounts, from newspapers, books, interviews, letters and other avenues, that happened with this sadistic and greedy woman, Linda Burfield Hazzard, along with her husband, Samuel Chrisman Hazzard.

It’s 1910 and British heiresses Dorothea and Claire Williamson are enjoying themselves traveling the world. They are in their early thirties, single but not looking for male companionship, they believe they only need each other. Hey, nothing wrong with that. They are living as we say “the good life” in 1910. However, both women appear to be fascinated by improving their health in one form or the other, they believe that they are suffering from a myriad of ailments. I supposed in the sisters’ case they would be termed hypochondriacs.

One day while on their travels they saw an advertisement in a Seattle newspaper about healing ailments naturally. They respond to the ad, and so, unfortunately, meets the acquaintance of Dr. Linda Hazzard. Wow! Dr. Hazzard, I think I would be scared of just the name alone (hehehe).

Dr. Hazzard believes wholeheartedly that any ailment was caused by dietary factors. The sisters believe in natural medicine, what we know as naturopathic medicine today. And so in learning about Dr. Hazzard’s methods, it wasn’t hard for the sisters to by her rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. Linda Hazzard had dreams of helping people on a grand scale, so she decided she’s going to build a sanitarium where she can treat countless people with their ailments, such as stomach ailments, rheumatoid arthritis, and other organic diseases.

Image of Linda Burfield Hazzard

Linda Burfield Hazzard via Wikipedia

The woman was delusional, she had no real medical training held no medical degree, but was given a license to practice as a “fasting specialists” righttt, fasting specialist, cause that would be a thing to study at medical school, sure. Anyway, she apparently studied under a Dr.  Edward Hooker Dewey, who was also a fan of fasting.

So how the state of Washington saw it fit to give her a license to practice her fasting methods is beyond me. She would of course only acquire wealthy patients, which she would then coerced into parting with their wealth.

Dorothea and Claire arrived in Olalla, Washington in 1911, at Linda Hazzard’s Institute of Natural Therapeutics after receiving some treatment from her at their temporary apartment, which they thought was going quite well. They thought, they were in for a treat and that this time for sure all their ailments would be taking care of.

At last, the treatment. Finally, the promise of unsurpassed health. Claire could barely contain her joy over their good fortune to be treated by Linda Burfield Hazzard.

The experiences depicted in this book are quite disturbing, some of it is hard to face, the fact that we can inflict such harm on each other without a thought, as I mentioned before, it is usually driven by greed and all the corruption that comes with that. This story brings to light in the 1900s, that someone could get away with countless atrocities before authorities stepped. I suppose that her being a “doctor” had something to do with it, I mean, of course, they would take a doctor’s word over the patient’s,  and when politics is involved it gets even messier.

Read the book to find out how all the theft, corruption, conspiracy, coercion, malice and murder took place.

By the way, the author, Gregg Olsen, actually lives in Olalla, Washington, Where all this took place.

37 replies »

  1. Very good review! I should reread this one myself, as it’s been probably a couple of decades since I first read this one. I tried to find out when it first came out, but it’s been reprinted so many times it’s hard to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

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