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Gore, V. (1991). Through the Night: Helping Parents and Sleepless Infants. By Dylis Dawsa London: Free Association Books. £27.50 hardback £12.95 paperback. 274 Pp.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 5(2):173-174.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 5(2):173-174

Through the Night: Helping Parents and Sleepless Infants. By Dylis Dawsa London: Free Association Books. £27.50 hardback £12.95 paperback. 274 Pp.

Review by:
Veronica Gore

This is much more than a book about children with sleeping problems. In it Mrs Daws, an experienced child psychotherapist, combines an analysis of research findings with a psychoanalytic understanding of infant development, and a sympathetic feel for the distress and desperation evoked in parents by a sleepless child. It is divided into three parts. The first contains a detailed description, with many case illustrations, of the way she works with parents. This essentially involves helping the parents to connect the difficulties they are having with their child to their own childhood experiences, thus enabling the parents to find a space to think, and to find their own solutions to their child's sleeping problems.

Part II provides a developmental context for thinking about sleeping problems and includes excellent chapters on the emotional and physiological development of the infant. In this section she develops her central hypothesis that underlying many sleeping problems are issues to do with separation and attachment. The section also includes chapters on the functions of normal and REM (dreaming) sleep, and the way in which the parents handling of the child crucially influences the establishment of sleep patterns.

Part III explores in more depth and through the use of case material the link between the parents' own childhood experiences and the sleeping problems they encounter with their child. The final chapters consider how other factors — single parenthood, working parents, mother's depression — may interact with the infant's sleeping patterns.

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