Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.
I've seen my share of torture victims-- traumatized adoptees from far away orphanages, grown people still traumatized by old child abuse, war refugees, raped children and grown-ups. Never did I see the abuse causing a change of heart, sympathy for the enemy, or a desire to confess wrongdoings. Even when coerced in prisons, juvenille detention, or foster homes, people come away with hatred and revenge, not humility and good intentions. Even informers, a rare event, do more harm than good in the world when released.
So, why would a government institution sanction systematic torture? If not to give in to sadistic urges, act aggressively to mask fear like most bullies, or mimic TV shows, then what? In medicine, cost-benefit analysis, for better or worse, dictates a lot of decisions. Healthcare providers prescribe medication and procedures based on whether the benefit, such as care, comfort, and life expectancy, outweighs the cost, such as side effects. Often, the decision has more to do with statistics than with the individual patient. Now, wouldn't government have the same sort of best practices, based on logic, statistics or such an analysis? The cost of a rare lead from torture is a total loss of integrity, self-respect of the institution involved and of the nation, as well as generation of extreme hatred beyond what is already there.
You ask, what do we do instead? What has worked more often than intimidation and torture is giving the extremist what they don't expect. Developing relationships in the prison setting, training and teaching other ways of thinking and educating them about the reality of life in the part of the world he doesn't know or understand makes sense. After all, that's how they became extremists originally, through persistant brainwashing in his particular culture. The development of a rigorous Catholic or Hasidic Jew, for example, isn't that different from that of a jihadist. They are all true believers. Reprogramming isn't that different from the long debriefing done with former cult members. There are specialists in this field. They would gladly consult with the government.
So, if you think, the government does what it takes, and that justifies tons of extreme torture, you aren't supported by psychological knowledge in the long run most of the time.