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Archer torture

Captain Archer is tortured by Dolim

Kirk Adams Chair 2266

Captain Kirk is tortured by Tristan Adams

Picard tortured

Captain Picard tortured in 2369

Torture is the practice of inflicting extreme pain on a captive subject.

While the pain inflicted during torture is often physical in nature, it can also possess an emotional or mental character.


Torture (or the threat of torture) can be intended to:

  • Serve as a disincentive to the subject against withholding information from the torturer
  • Force the subject into an altered state of mind in which they are more likely to confess misdeeds or swear on lies, as a consequence of the autonomic elevation of neurotransmitter levels
  • Intimidate the subject
  • Induce someone responsible for the safety of the subject to provide information desired by the torturer
  • Punish the subject for disobedience or unsuccessful escape from captivity
  • Condition the subject to accept the torturer's authority without question
  • Please the torturer, for example, sadism

As implied above, torture is considered by some to be useful during interrogations. However, Captain Jean-Luc Picard asserted to Gul Madred that "torture has never been a reliable means of extracting information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders it is still practiced." (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II")

Acts of torture were in theory banned by the Seldonis IV Convention, however governments who were signatories to the treaty would often attempt to find ways around this restriction. The Cardassians were one such example, who justified their torture of Picard by claiming the treaty only applied to those acting on behalf of a treaty signatory, which Picard would not admit to being. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II")


Races known to sanction the use of torture include:

Torture is common in the mirror universe.

Torture was also a common practice in Earth's authoritarian and anarchic nation states, prior to the founding of the United Earth government. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")



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