Modern experiment and theory in the field of residual stress detection by the photoacoustic method are summarized and analyzed. A multimode approach based on the simultaneous application of several photothermal and photoacoustic methods is proposed for the study of thermal and thermoelastic effects in solids with residual stress. Some experimental results obtained within the framework of this approach for Vickers indentation zones in ceramics are presented. The effect of annealing on the photoacoustic, piezoelectric signal for ceramics and the influence of the given external loading on the behavior of the photoacoustic signal near the radial crack tips is investigated. It is experimentally shown that both compressive and shear stresses contribute to the photoacoustic signal near the radial crack tips. The model of the photoacoustic, thermoelastic effect in solids with residual stress is proposed. It is based on the modified Murnaghan model of non-linear elastic bodies, which takes into account a possible dependence of the thermoelastic constant on stress. This model is further developed to explain the photoacoustic signal behavior near the radial crack tips. It is demonstrated that this model of the photoacoustic effect agrees qualitatively with the available experimental data.