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They Can Erase (Some of) That Heartbreaking Moment
Let's say there's something you'd like to forget (a depressing encounter, a medical procedure, a boring lecture). To induce a merciful bit of amnesia immediately, try to let your mind roam to something that is emotionally different from that experience, says Peter Delaney, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Carolina, Greensboro. In his study, volunteers who daydreamed right after learning a list of words remembered far less than those who stayed present. Note: The "amnesia effect" was especially strong when thoughts strayed to a distant place (a vacation abroad) or time (two or more weeks ago). But don't expect an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind experience. "'Intentional forgetting' won't completely erase your memory," explains Delaney, but it will get rid of some (undesirable) details.
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