The film The Magnificent Seven is a classic Western about a group of gunslingers who selflessly defend a town against enormous odds.

In the 1960 version (starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen), the men fight off bandits in a Mexican village.  In the 2016 version (starring Denzel Washington), they combat a ruthless robber baron in a frontier town.


In both versions of the film, the gunfighters are unquestionably heroes – strong, courageous, and expert at their craft.  In each version, however, one man in the group wrestles with demons from his past.

In the 1960 version, the character “Lee” (played by Robert Vaughn of “Man from UNCLE” fame) fears he has lost his nerve.  Haunted by the enemies he has killed, Lee suffers from nightmares.  He drinks.  His hands tremble.  He breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of battle.

In the 2016 version, the character “Goodnight Robicheaux” (played by Ethan Hawke) is a former Confederate marksman who now has difficulty taking aim.  Goodnight sees hallucinations that he fears foretell his death.

Both men worry that they will not be able to perform when called upon to do so, that they will let others down.  Both consider themselves weak and cowardly.

A Different Perspective

But the audience does not view them that way.  The audience feels enormous compassion for these characters.

Both men stumble.  Yet they somehow find the courage to face their fears, in defense of others.  That they are flawed is one reason The Magnificent Seven has such a powerful impact.  Their internal struggles make the film more compelling.


I had not heard the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when I first saw The Magnificent Seven as a young girl.   Both Lee and Goodnight, of course, suffer from it.  Little did I know at the time that I would, as well.


Few abuse victims view themselves as heroic.  Like Lee and Goodnight, we see ourselves as weak and cowardly…and despise ourselves for that.

But it takes as much courage to fight demons, as it does bandits and robber barons.  And God knows we do that on a regular basis.

We may not be defending Mexican villagers or frontier townspeople.  But we are defending the vulnerable and helpless – the innocent children we once were.  That battle rages on inside us, as the past and present merge.

Each time we take a stand (on our own behalf or that of someone else defenseless), we take another step forward and gain another victory.  Just having survived, we deserve the title “hero”.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) has proven a helpful treatment for PTSD.  For more information, see https://www.healthline.com/health/emdr-therapy.

SGB (Stellate Ganglion Block) is now being explored as a possible treatment for PTSD.  For more information, see https://www.anxiety.org/stellate-ganglion-block-sgb-for-ptsd-research-update and/or https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sgb-a-possible-breakthrough-treatment-for-ptsd-60-minutes-2019-06-16/.



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

12 responses to “Heroes

  1. Anna, this is a great post bringing to light what PTSD is in simple terms though by no means is the suffering simple, it is very traumatic with many mind games from demons to break the person down. It takes courage to work through these thoughts and mind games to bring inner strength to break free and also to go forward knowing the pain to help others in their dilemmas or life tragedies. You have a clear way of writing for all to understand.

  2. Anna, I wish you the absolute best with all your life’s goals. Blessings.

  3. I like your insights on Ethan Hawke’s character. A hero demonstrates courage by doing the thing he is afraid to do.

    I think I like the original version better. This one must have had 1,000 gun shots. The more bullets, the less dramatic impact each bullet has.

  4. also a blast from the past…

  5. Heroes, both female and male, have made me Live, and given me the Courage to Fight (on). They are Tooooo numerous for me to mention! And, from Your writings, You are one of my Heroes, too, my Dear Anna! God Bless, and Love. 🙂

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