Review: The Journey Toward Wholeness

The Journey Toward Wholeness, Suzanne Stabile. Downers Grove: IVP/Formatio, 2021.

Summary: Draws on the wisdom of the Enneagram to help focus on our responses to stress, both as they reflect our dominant and repressed centers of intelligence intelligence.

Suzanne has written a couple very popular books on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You (review) and The Path Between Us (review). The first is an introduction to the Enneagram and how it contributes to self-understanding. The second discusses how persons who are different Enneagram types interact with each other. This book focuses in on how different Enneagram types respond under stress, and how one might grow into health.

The book focuses on two aspects of the Enneagram. The first has to do with what Enneagram Triad our type is within. There are three triads. The Feeling Triad includes those who are 2s, 3s, and 4s, the Thinking Triad includes those who 5s, 6s, and 7s, and the Doing Triad, those who are 8s, 9s, and 1s. For each type in the Triad, our response to stress will reflect our dominant intelligence–feeling, doing, thinking. We are inclined to ask, “what am I feeling?” or “what am I thinking?” or “what is to be done?” depending on our type. Of course, none of these responses alone are always enough, and healthy responses to stress draw upon the best of all three. This comes by understanding the numbers we move toward in stress and security for our particular type, and moving to the healthy sides of these numbers. Stabile offers introductions to each Triad and then a chapter for each type in the Triad. She begins with an illustrative story, how a particular type sees the world, the type’s response to stress, including the Enneagram type we move toward in stress, a key to healthy response, practices to try and the type we move toward in security.

The second part of the book focuses on our number’s “Stance” which has to do with which particular center we tend to repress in our stress responses. The stances are the Withdrawing Stance (represses doing), including those who are 4s, 5s, and 9s, the Aggressive Stance (represses feeling), including those who are 3s, 7s, and 8s, and the Dependent Stance (represses thinking), including the 1s, 2s, and 6s. What this means is that without work, we draw on only two of the three intelligences when we respond to stress. Again, Stabile offers an introduction to each stance, and a chapter for each type within a stance and resources for incorporating the repressed intelligence. Particularly helpful for each type are the Transformative Possibilities, a list of suggestions for one’s type.

I found that the material for my type made sense, as well as making sense of how colleagues and friends who are different types respond. I am one of those Withdrawing Types, and the encouragement to wade into discussions and to share my observations and thinking is especially helpful. Obviously, knowing one’s Enneagram type helps, so I would encourage reading The Road Back to You or another introduction to the Enneagram before, or along with, this book. What was uniquely helpful in this book was to understand my default responses to stress and to discover that I have options and am not stuck with the default.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Journey Toward Wholeness

  1. I find it interesting that the Enneagram is still around! It was very popular back in the eighties when I attended a weeklong seminar on it at Notre Dame. The major problem was that we “fives” wanted, primarily, to observe the other eight groups during the time for our interactions!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: February 2022 | Bob on Books

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