In "Chain of Command", why did Gul Madred torture Picard even after drugging him? It was in fact true he didn't know the defense plans he was questioned about, so were they just doing it because they "may as well"? They kept him for a long time and I would've thought they would have concluded he really did know nothing.

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    Because Gul can't tell the difference between 4 and 5 lights ;) – Often Right Jun 22 '15 at 9:41
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    Because breaking the spirit of a high ranking Federation officer would be highly advantageous in moral, possibly turn Picard into a double agent, and a personal victory for Gul. – user16696 Jun 22 '15 at 12:10
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    (Minor nerd point) Gul is a cardassian rank, roughly equivalent to Captain, not a given name. – DX101 Jun 22 '15 at 13:10
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    His name is Madred, jeez. Gul is a rank. (Oops, someone beat me to it.) – Paul D. Waite Jun 22 '15 at 13:10
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    S/gul/"The Gul"/g – user16696 Jun 22 '15 at 18:57

I remember reading something that Patrick Stewart was basing his performance on Winston Smith character from George Orwell's 1984. Specifically the torture scenes in the book. I know you may be asking for in-canon answer but this is too long for a comment. Well, to my point, the torture was not for getting information but to break the spirit and force an alternate reality so Picard would not believe his own eyes (e.g. "There are Four Lights!") In the book, the purpose was so that the citizens would readily accept any reality that the government put out, as they would change reality constantly.

The Cardassians wanted something similar. That is, an important star fleet official (Captain Picard) would accept the reality of Cardassian spin of whatever goals they wanted. Hopefully someone with more information can expand on this.

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    Tu further support the 1984 connection: the 4/5 lights thing was actually taken directly from that book. – Layna Jun 22 '15 at 12:49
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  • circular reasoning will get you nowhere. The point of commenting is to make a comment – Frank Cedeno Jun 22 '15 at 13:46
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    I'm not sure if you're joking, but... The point of the line is that while torture may ostensibly be for purposes of extraction of information or control, fundamentally torture is for its own sake. It is an inherent part of regimes like Oceania or the Cardassian Union, an expression of their culture, regardless of any practical function. Picard says as much, when he discovers a small way to defend himself. – Beta Jun 23 '15 at 1:01
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    I've read that Stewart insisted that they not pull any punches with the script, and that Amnesty International provided insights into the psychology (of both torturer and victim). This is an issue he cares about, and without his resolve it's unlikely that these scenes would have been so deep, explicit and brutal. We've all seen how boring it is when the hero just toughs it out, maintains his dignity and then recovers completely after a hot shower and change of clothes. (I'm looking at you, Babylon Five.) – Beta Jun 27 '15 at 4:41

Although Gul Madred's initial goal was to obtain information regarding Starfleet's defensive operations, it quickly became more than that to Madred. A man of sadistic nature, Madred no longer cared about information, but instead was concerned only with breaking Picard's will.

As we see on-screen, the torture turns into a contest of wills - one where Madred's only goal is to make Picard say there are five lights. Everything he does from that point is designed to break down Picard and make him perform that single action.

Even after knowing that Picard is to be freed, Gul Madred ignores his orders and continues to torture Picard, attempting to break him right up until the last possible second.

And, by the way, there are FOUR lights.

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