The Real Story of TD Lingo TDA Lingo T.D. Lingo T.D.A. Lingo and the Dormant Brain Lab
The REAL Story
TD Lingo and The Dormant Brain Lab
by Neil Slade, Brain Lab Assistant to TD Lingo 1982-1993
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For further info please visit: Trailhead: Dormant Brain Research Lab
BIO: Neil Slade- is an author of seven books on brain and behavior including The Frontal Lobes Supercharge, Tickle Your Amygdala, and Secret of The Dormant Brain Lab. He is also a lifelong musical composer, seasoned concert performer, and teacher.
Slade was assistant to Brain and Behavior Researcher T.D.A. Lingo, Ph.B., B.Sci. M.A., for 11 years at Colorado’s Brain Research and Development Laboratory, established by director Lingo in 1957.
Since December 1997, Neil has been a regular guest on Coast To Coast AM with George Noory and Art Bell, the world’s most popular night time syndicated radio show, and has also been a repeat guest of national PBS television and radio host Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove (Thinking Allowed), and has appeared on countless other radio, television, and internet broadcasts across the globe.
Secret Of The Dormant Brain Lab (2011) is an account of Slade’s work with brain researcher T.D.A. Lingo at his wilderness research facility. http://www.bookofwands.com/order.html
“My story unfolds with me as a spearhead infantry scout for General Patton’s army in World War II. The war was horrible on the front lines. My group was one of the first to arrive at Hitler’s death camps to liberate the remaining survivors. After I got back home to the U.S. I went to the University of Chicago, and earned my bachelor and masters degrees in behavioral science, and almost completed my Ph.D. My experiences during the war drove me to ask but one question: “Why must I kill my brother?” To this, my school and professors had no answer. But one professor’s advice was “If there is an answer to this question, it’s up here,” pointing to his own gray head. “The answer has got to be in the human brain, but the research hasn’t yet been done in academe. You’re going to have to build your own research center if you are going to solve that riddle.”
“So, I dropped out of my Ph.D. program and started to figure out how to put my own research facility together. I didn’t have any money, but I could tell a good story! So, I figured, if there was a fortune to be made in a hurry, maybe I could do it in show business…Turns out I was right…I bought this mountain and built this place with a guitar, three chords, and nine folk songs.”
“I started out playing the local joints around Denver, and eventually I landed a spot on Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life TV show in Hollywood. I wore these old buckskins and I played the part of a backwoods mountain man to perfection. It was during that appearance that a New York producer spotted me. He must have said “I know a good phony when I see one, and that son of a bitch is a great one!” They flew me out to New York City and signed me to do a summer replacement show on NBC. My show was a weekly one where the “new” fad of folk singing (in the late 50’s) was featured. People like Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie showed up as guests, and performed with me. What a time we had…and I got paid $2000 an hour to do it!
On the last show, I looked straight into the camera and asked the million viewers who were watching, “If anybody out there has a mountain to sell, call me.” And sure enough, somebody called me up right from Colorado. At the end of the summer, I took my money, two grocery sacks full, and ran! I gave one to the IRS and I bought this place, Laughing Coyote Mountain, with the other. I started to axe timber and build log cabin labs. That was in 1957. No sterile formaldehyde bleak lab walls for me…give me fresh air and the beautiful sounds of the forest to think clearly!”
(Below, Sarah R. student of N. Slade and Lingo, 1993 in front of Lingo’s print cabin)
“For the next 30 years I dedicated myself totally to exploring behavior from the perspective of the human brain. My staff and I looked at every available bit of scientific research and philosophic/religious literature on the subject. We ran our own short and long term experiments with 309 test subjects. Now, up here, this environment of rugged mountain wilderness provides a total focus into the self that never can be replicated in any city, with all the noise and distractions. Up here, there’s no electricity, no TV, or movies, no four lane highways to get away from it all. You ARE away from it all!
Up here, you face yourself, your mind, and your brain. The brain lab still doesn’t have electrical power lines, or even running water. It’s just you, the hand water pump, a wood stove, and your central nervous system. Our lab’s records grew voluminous. These log structures were crammed full of file cabinets. The books line the walls from the stone floors to the ceiling rafters, 18 feet up. In the end, we discovered the mechanisms to release startling new intelligence, creativity, and pleasure, inside each and every human brain. And all our findings are supported and corroborated with foundation findings by scientists elsewhere.” as told by T.D. Lingo, 1989
* * *
Addendum 2007-2013 by Neil Slade
Some people are curious as to my connection with Lingo, and why his biographical material and work was found almost exclusively at my site from 1997-2007, and to this day is the principal site dedicated to TD Lingo’s work. Here’s the scoop and the story:
During the 1970’s at the height of flower power and self-exploration, Lingo drew a large audience from seekers across the nation, drawing people who were looking beyond the mere materialism of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The brain lab was a busy busy place, with students and staff continually flowing through, enthusiasm blooming. Along comes the 1980’s, and out went self-exploration and in came disco dancing. Alas, I was of the later generation, but not a dancer.
By the time I began frequenting the lab in 1982, most of the former staff had dropped out and instead gone back to “business as usual”. Clear evidence of this is the complete lack of color photographs published by anyone, save myself and the photos TD Lingo took of me helping him collect firewood around 1987 See Brain Lab Photo Tour (and photo below). The few other black and white photos of Lingo that exist were taken from the mid 1970’s and earlier, showing TD Lingo as a much younger fellow photos that have been reproduced at other sites by persons who never met nor knew the man. Surprisingly, when we did the photo shoot above, Lingo refused to have his picture taken, and instead insisted on documenting my own work and taking the photos himself using my camera. I attribute this to his generosity in passing on the “baton of brain fame” to me, rather than stepping into the spotlight again himself.
(Below, myself after collecting firewood, back of main cabin, photo by T.D. Lingo 1987)
(Below: Lingo’s main home cabin for 30 years, photo, N. Slade 1993)
I saw little if any of the former brain lab participants through the 1980’s, and instead worked with TD Lingo to get city folk involved to start their own brain communities and support groups on the flat lands, and I worked to promote the lab’s work through the mass media.
Each year form 1983 onward I helped TD Lingo collect firewood each winter, as shown by the photos above, and recruited friends as I could to help, such as Sky and Eileen W., Glenda H., Fred P., Broz R. (privacy respected online, although these are some of my best friends), and others who can testify to this work.
From 1983 onward, TD Lingo and I did ongoing numerous public appearances together. These are a matter of public record as are the press releases and media stories covering the public events that I did highlighting Brain Self-Control and Education. Westword Newspaper alone eventually ran four separate full page stories on my work over a period of several years, in addition to full page stories in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, as well as appearances on each of Denver’s major television stations with Brain Self-Control as the focus.
There is no evidence of anyone else working with TD Lingo in this consistent and actualized manner from 1983-1993. Our sole efforts together to this degree are reflected in the public record and in written and dated correspondence from this period, of which I retain the originals as well as samples of TD Lingo’s correspondence with others from the last decade of his life.
Let’s look at the actual public record- here is a small sample:
Best Living Tribute to T.D. Lingo- Neil Slade & the Brain Revolutionaries: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2007/12/best_of_denver_winners_from_19_1.php
Newspaper Cover Story Clip 1 (1999)
Newspaper Clip 2 (1995)
Newspaper Clip 3 (1988)
Newspaper Clip 4 (1990)
Newspaper Clip 5 (1990)
http://www.westword.com/1998-07-02/news/think/1 ( 1998) “Think!” Page 1
Specifically, my work with TD Lingo for the last eleven years of the lab’s existence was to take the brain lab’s findings, which had previously been mostly done on the facility, and to take it into the schools, hospitals, and set up study groups in town (Denver), as well as to refine the written materials, and make them more accessible to the mainstream.
It was my goal to become an independent brain education entity using the vast experience and knowledge that Lingo imparted to me. I further understood the need to evolve and fine tune to my own experience, adding my own special abilities and knowledge in music along with my college education and post graduate experience.
Throughout the 1980’s I worked in the public schools and all of Denver’s major psychiatric facilities teaching basic brain self-control methods defined at the lab but taught in my own customized way. I regularly ran therapeutic workshops at West Pines Psychiatric Hospital, Ft. Logan Mental Health Center, Denver General Psychiatric Ward, Mt. Airy Psychiatric Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Denver, Denver Head Injury Clinic, and other public and private facilities.
In an unprecedented original “Mind Music” program, I was employed by the principal of a Denver Public Elementary School to teach all 600 students and their teachers how to self-activate advanced levels of creativity, intelligence, and cooperative trust behavior by learning “brain basics”. We had the kids learn, illustrate, and teach each other brain anatomy and function. The program eventually led to teachers singing to their students and students dancing in the classroom.
In 1989 I published my Frontal Lobes Handbook (later revised into the Frontal Lobes Supercharge), which has found its way into public libraries and university and hospital libraries. TD Lingo took an active part in helping edit portions of this book, and I give him full credit for helping me to learn an effective writing style.
In October 1992, on my last physical visit to the mountain, TD Lingo was at hand when Sarah R. and I discussed the future of our brain rock band, “The Brain Revolutionaries“. We spoke and planned the possibilities of a traveling brain “medicine show” for which TD Lingo had written and submitted pages and pages of scripts for my consideration previously. Soon thereafter in the mail I received correspondence that included this amusing theme song for our group:
All the while, TD Lingo and I planned and presented radio and television appearances, wrote scripts, as well as continued to court the media. Although Lingo had corresponded with thousands of individuals across the globe, as well as had vast numbers of students and subjects come through his brain and behavior facility, his concepts and discoveries had as yet escaped widespread acceptance.
TD Lingo had a cancer scare requiring hospital tests and a cab ride from a student, but this was seventeen years earlier in 1978. He had shown no major health problems since then, but suddenly, in 1993, Lingo died of an apparent heart defect, a major burst blood vessel in the chest.
This came as a surprise to me since he had shown no illness or premonition of coming health problems whatsoever. No one had seen TD Lingo for months, including any of the old former staff, and my visit the previous late fall may have very well been the last one from an outsider up to the lab. (And no one presented such obvious information such as a recent visit for any reason at his funeral service held soon after). My last physical contact with him had been the previous October with Sarah and Nathan R. (shown above), as these friends and I helped with wood gathering as was the yearly tradition.
His mind remained strikingly observant and totally lucid to the end, as testified in his last correspondence to me, as well to another former student.
In Sept. 2009 one letter was shared that suggested that he had felt abandoned by other older staff members. He shared this in a single terse and unambiguous statement as little as a week after sending me a ten page glowing and optimistic letter of thanks looking towards the future. It should be clear that such sentiments were not expressed or sent to any other individuals at this time. Such a statement may have well been only intended for the eyes of this one person in whom TD Lingo may have felt particularly disappointed at the end of his life.
Several times I recall Lingo being asked, “What happens after staff and students “transcend” and pop their frontal lobes?” His answer, “They disappear. I never see them again.”
This wasn’t always literally true, and I have had contact even to this day with many former students and staff who have fond memories of their experience, and I have many letters in my basement from TD Lingo expressing his positive outlook.
In my case, in his final days, he did not share any of his personal health concerns with me, perhaps not to distract me from the ongoing positive thrust of my work in the public domain, perhaps not to disturb the lasting optimistic and positive image that I had kept in my mind all of the years, especially during the winter and early spring of 1993.
He completely spared me of general negative feelings about others shown in the single letter show below. None the less, in this correspondence, perhaps only meant for RMC’s eyes, he states that as a whole, he felt (at least at this moment) that the old BINC (Brain In Nature Course) staff had abandoned and failed their life mission to continue The Brain Revolution.
(It should be noted that I was never a part of the earlier generation BINC (Brain In Nature Course), and I worked totally independently with TD Lingo during the last decade through to 1993.)
In regards to poverty, TD Lingo willingly took a vow of poverty so as to continue his work. He was not attached to material things and lived simply, remarkably in the wilderness even without running water and electricity. Throughout his life was proud that he did not get caught up in the accumulation of property and the debt generated by such, and that he spent his energies elsewhere.
Below, a portion of a letter from Feb 1993 to “R” (BINC student) after resigning from “The Brain Revolution” because of school sports program coaching (see Dec. 92 letter bottom of page):
No such feelings were ever expressed towards me, but rather the opposite, from which he never strayed.
This letter to me, from the same period, Jan. 1993 (The entire letter is shown at the bottom of this page):
When the Rocky Mountain News ran the multiple page story about TD Lingo and his work, they asked me to take the reporter and photographer and give them the guided tour of the brain lab.
My picture can be seen sitting on Lingo’s bunk bed in the news spread, and to no surprise, there is no mention nor proof of any former staff or students- because they had all left TD Lingo on his own for the most part, years before. I did not have to suggest or convince anyone at the Rocky Mountain News about who to call for TD Lingo’s eulogy.
In the presence of two witnesses, Sarah and Nathan R., TD Lingo had in October of 1992 expressed his intention that I carry on his work in addition to inheriting the physical property of the lab upon his retirement or death. Unfortunately, his demise was so sudden, he had never filled out the proper paper work nor a proper will. The funny thing was, one of my best friends Rachel M., had a VERY strange premonition about this, and repeatedly told me in November, “Get it in writing, now.”
I never pressed him for this, and it may have been a mistake, or it may have spared me legal battles with his surviving blood relatives. I will choose to believe it the latter.
Although absurd claims of a “living will” continue to be made, the only document referred to was written in distress by TD Lingo in 1978 when he believed he had cancer. This was never pursued because in actuality, it was an impossible claim given the delivered article of evidence: A casual mention of an idea in a letter never followed up on, despite given another fifteen years to do so! He in fact never willed anything to anyone at any time. Although he had ample time to create a will, all letters and correspondence indicate he was thoroughly disappointed with the original staff by 1993. The only note left on the cover of his Do-It-Yourself Will Kit was this:
“(blank) em all.” You fill in the blank.
Thus, when TD Lingo died, his brother obtained rights to the property per default. (Many years later, Lingo’s biological son was discovered living in a hospital and under the care of TD Lingo’s stepson. It wasn’t long before the biological son died, at which point all of the land was put up for sale by developers, and parceled into a half dozen lots, all intersected by a new dirt road that cut through the pristine 250 acre wilderness after the turn of the century.)
Named in the only surviving legal and relevant legal document was Harmony A. (name omitted here for privacy), a former staff member from the early 1970’s, who was named officially the brain lab’s corporate vice president. Hence, she rose the legal position of president of the non-profit Adventure Trails School, TD Lingo’s legal educational entity, upon his death.
***Harmony and I returned to the mountain together after the funeral services, and collected all of Lingo’s papers from the lab together. She insured that I retain originals of everything for my own continuing work, besides her own copies. (In additional to TD Lingo’s library of original manuscripts, I was awarded a couple of personal items through the family’s lawyer, Richard H.. This included one of Lingo’s guitars and his famous brain in a jar.)***
Shortly thereafter, she appointed additional corporate officers (post Lingo’s death) who had been for the most part absent from the scene for over a decade. Together, this spanking new self-formed legal establishment finally came to an arrangement with TD Lingo’s estate in their attempt to gain custody of all of his intellectual property, i.e. his writings. It should be noted that I had already had a great percentage of these in my possession from ten years of work with TD Lingo.
Although invited, I declined to become a corporate board member, and preferred to continue working independently without ties or constraints to any other participants (truly as Lingo himself had done) and as I had done all along. The new corporate board members hadn’t really been on the scene during all of the years I had been working with TD Lingo at least since 1982, and I didn’t see any point in creating an artificial partnership in Lingo’s absence. Any legal entitlement to any of TD Lingo’s works ended abruptly when the corporation failed to fulfill the legal requirements of their corporate status. (It was easy enough to do- but this newly created group didn’t manage one meeting a year together on a consistent basis.)
Within only a couple of short years, the newly formed corporate board disintegrated and lost all of its legal status. In contrast, my own work grew in momentum, as it had been while Lingo was alive and while we worked together over the previous 11 years.
I do not downplay the unquestionably significant role that others played in the Brain Lab before I arrived, but rather clarify that my role beginning in 1982 was to fill a more or less permanent void left as others departed the mountain for the most part, never to return again in any significant role.
In 1995 I created a web site dedicated to my brain and music work, “The Amazing Brain Adventure”, and it has now reached millions across the globe with an average of between 2500-3500 visitors a day which continues to the present (2011). I’ve written and published an additional 8 books, along with 20 audio and music CDs, and two films- one of which has inspired an another autobiographical film produced by an independent Irish film company. I’ve been a guest on internationally broadcast radio and TV news and talk shows (link for list) , including CBS news (Canadian), noted PBS host Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove’s program, as well as Art Bell’s Coast To Coast program discussing brain self-control and new ideas and methods which I developed in my own work since 1993.
There was no presence on the web speaking of the Brain Lab and TD Lingo besides my own web site until December 2005, nine full years after I had created my own site in 1996 dedicated to The Brain Lab, Lingo, and Brain Self-Control– and this is borne out by the Internet Archive records.
No one really cared enough to even mention his name on their site- until I started popularizing TD Lingo and the Brain Lab on an international stage via my regular appearances on Art Bell’s Coast To Coast Radio show in 1997. And then- it still took another 8 years for even one other person to start catching on that maybe Lingo and the Lab were worth writing about online. Of course- everyone wants to join in on a winning formula, and take credit for being a part. Jump on folks!
Another former student (L.G.) spent a total of six weeks in TD Lingo’s BINC course and was given the harmless job as camp cook. The worst he could do would be to burn the potatoes. Now in the self-help business, at one point he notoriously claimed copyright to one of Lingo’s later manuscripts while nobody was looking, but was eventually discovered. He once claimed owning “The only known copy of this workbook”.
Turns out, key missing parts of this manuscript which he never had himself, came directly from me at his request. He very conveniently “forgot” that it was in fact myself who supplied him with missing chapters to the manuscript.
The correct history is that TD Lingo himself had refused a partnership with this individual in his previous attempt to gain control of the manuscript. The posthumous publishing attempt was later halted by the Lingo estate as being undesirable and was completely refused.
Of course, once this character was caught red handed– well, you can imagine vitriol he concocted with his reptile brain. Although you might find these comments in a dank online sewer someplace, no legitimate webmaster will post it.
In my archives I have some amusing and enlightening personal letters from TD Lingo expressing his opinion of such former students, but alas, we see enough dirt in pop culture these days and I see no point in dipping deep into the mud of others, besides the few references on this page.
Is there evidence anywhere of a single other person besides myself working with TD Lingo from 1979 onward? Helping him with classes? Publicity? Publishing? Press clips?
Nope. Zero. Make your own call.
THE SELF-TRANSCENDENCE WORKBOOK
It should, most importantly be noted, that TD Lingo consciously and deliberately ABANDONED the publication of both earlier works as being obsolete (pre– Self Transcendence Workbook I papers and books), as well as the later STW II. I repeat, Lingo rejected his own early creative works and found that manuscripts BEFORE and AFTER the 1980 Self-Transcended Workbook HINDERED, rather than helped the general public in regards to learning Brain Self Control. So be it.
I agree with TD Lingo 100%: These less than perfect papers easily take people away from what we both found WORKS BEST. Lewis Carroll wrote two great books- Alice and Through the Looking Glass. His long winded Meant-To-Be-Opus Sylvie and Bruno (i.e. STW II and others), is universally regarded as not worth one’s time.
For the last decade of his life, Lingo made only one book available, and that was the 42 lesson STW Version I, that I continue to release with permission of his estate, and with previous knowledge of the single person to which TD Lingo granted legal custody of his work, Harmony A. I consider this to be his absolute best written work, concise, to the point, and relatively simple to grasp (though certainly NOT the first book I recommend reading on the subject of Brain Self Control- for that, I’ve created other books that I feel work far better). As for TD Lingo’s own manuscripts, nothing else outside the STW-I works nearly as well, and in fact, the other material can confuse people, and make matters worse.
Lingo got it as right as he ever would in STW-I and in a few choice essays that I’ve reproduced and annotated in Cosmic Conversations. For me, these are the cream of the crop, these are his magnum opus. The rest– passing interest, and at this point in history, less than useful, viewed from my 40 years of teaching.
Although of historical interest, I (as do others) always found that TD Lingo’s other writings were hard to interpret and were not as effective in conveying his personal core teachings, methods and direct one-on-one vibe, as it were. This was exactly the reason I wrote, with his blessing and help, The Frontal Lobes Handbook– expanded with additional original material in 1997 into The Frontal Lobes Supercharge.
TD Lingo had 35 years to make his books a success, including STW I. They did not accomplish or achieve his goals of widespread Brain Self-Control Education. In Lingo’s own words, I “stand on the shoulders, of those who came before me”. I’ve worked hard to complete the mission that he set as a goal- making Brain Self-Control a concept that vast numbers people can understand and utilize. These days, roughly 100,000 people a month visit my web sites.
I do not try to polish a piece of coal into a mirror, and I do not try to make something work that did not work for the general public for 35 years. I tried to learned from Lingo’s mistakes, and I believe I’ve improved upon a method of communication of these basic concepts of brain function, brain behavior, brain education, and brain self-control.
Never the less, although I owe a debt of gratitude to TD Lingo for a decade of friendship and work together, the bulk of my work is original, and I make no attempt to solely capitalize (financially or otherwise) on the work of others.
I continue the educational aspect of Lingo’s work which I did in partnership with him from 1982-1993, continued distribution of the original Self-Transcendence Workbook with the full knowledge and with permission of the TD Lingo estate, who further left in my legal possession both T.D. Lingo’s guitar, his brain in a jar, and the Lingo Library archives.
No other papers have been granted permission of publication by the Lingo Estate Any other manuscripts that may turn up elsewhere have been released against the express wishes of the sole legal copyright holders, i.e. The Lingo Family. Such claims of “Creative Commons” in regards to such are patently false and misleading. The motivation for re-writing history, for re-writing one’s place in history, is self-evident in the documents provided here.
There is only one truth, and that is obtained by examining all of the evidence, the public record, and all of the documented testimony.
In time if others lay claim to their own self-importance in the story of TD Lingo and the Brain Lab, regardless of the inaccuracy of their reporting and their convenient amnesia, well, success is always Xeroxed and siphoned. There will always be those who hallucinate. To see my efforts of promoting Lingo’s work alongside my own copycatted after so long a time, riding upon some convenient fibs and twisting of history, comes as absolutely no surprise to me at all. I will not be the last to speak of T.D. Lingo, or to claim to be a part of this story.
I was certainly only a little tiny piece of the pie.
WHO did what is not nearly as important as what WAS, what IS, and what YOU are doing now.
Names are not terribly important in the end.
We all will play our own role, and we all will play different roles, each important to the play.
As Lingo himself put it many times… “Your way is not my way, and my way is certainly not your way…”
That’s why this stuff is called Brain SELF-Control.
Take what you can from the story– and make it work for you as my friends and I have so delightfully done.
Further photos and documents are found at