This brief overview of the psychology of mental health and illness contrasts and compares the three primary views from which therapies occur; the psycho functional view, the psycho medical view, and the psycho visual view. In essence, these three views comprise the three ways health professionals define mental health and illness.
Currently, the perspectives from which mental health professionals address and explore peoples' levels of health and illness can be roughly divided into two broad categories.
In the first category, the "medical / symptoms" model, health is defined by the absence of symptoms; illness, by the presence of symptoms.
In the second category, the "functional / dysfunctional" model, health is defined by the ability to function at what are perceived to be the reference norms for a particular group. Illness is then defined as the inability to function at these perceived norms.
Presently, a third category is emerging. In this third category, the "visual / blocked" model, health is defined as an unblocked ability to picture choices on the screen of one's mind. Illness is defined as the inability to picture these choices.
On what is this third perspective based? On the hypothesis that the root of illness is neither the symptoms nor the dysfunction present but rather, that illness stems directly from people's blocked abilities to visualize their choices. Literally.
It is further hypothesized that these blocked visual abilities are the actual root cause of both the symptoms and the dysfunction present, the literal a priori nature of mental health and mental illness.
And the assumption beneath these hypotheses?
That beneath all symptoms and dysfunction, there is a preverbal visual essence which, in nature, and in effect, precedes all mental and emotional processes. More over, that by directly addressing these preverbal visual aspects of peoples' inner lives, that therapists can bypass people's conscious and unconscious defenses.
Can this hypothesis be true? Can peoples' blocked visual abilities to picture their choices be the actual root cause of all mental health symptoms and dysfunction? Admittedly, this is a radical hypothesis. None the less, strong evidence exists for this hypothesis being true.
Exploring this hypothesis will be the goal of this brief article.
A First Look at the "Three Perspectives"
For the rest of this article, we will refer to these three perspectives, or views, as,  the "psycho functional " perspective,  the "psycho medical " perspective, and  the "psycho visual" perspective. How do these three perspectives differ? To see, let's look at how health professionals from these three perspectives would look at a common personal problem, say, "low self confidence at work."
To do this, let's set up what might be a typical situation wherein this condition could exist.
Let's say we have a forty-five year old man who works for a fortune 500 company. More over, let's say this man has, for years, managed an information services department in one of this company's regional offices, an office in which he has been managing some forty to fifty employees.
Let's also say that this man has been working for this company for going on twenty five years. However, despite the fact that there have been many opportunities for advancement beyond his present level, he has repeatedly been passed by and has never complained.
How might mental health professionals from each of these three categories see this man's situation?
the Psycho Functional View
Psycho functional therapists would probably begin therapy by looking at how well this man functions at work. To do this, they might ask him things like how he manages his time or how he communicates to his boss or coworkers.
Eventually, of course, the therapy would uncover the inevitable flaws in this person's life skills. Why? Because all people have these kinds of functional flaws. Even so, the therapy would see what it had uncovered as having made progress and would then define these functional flaws as this man's problem; his "dysfunction."
What would happen next? In all likelihood, the therapist would focus on exploring these flaws. How? By asking this man things like "how he has done," "what he has learned," or "how he has felt" about how he has done over the course of his life, paying particular attention, of course, to the times in which he did not function well.
Along these lines, the health professional might ask, "Was there ever a time when you managed your time well or did you always have trouble managing your time?" Or, "Can you ever remember being able to get along with a boss well? Or "Did you always shy away from your peers?"
Other typical questions might be, "What do you believe about how people advance?" or "What do you think limits your thinking with regard to you, yourself, advancing?" Or, "How does it feel to have been passed by so many times when you know, all too well, that you have deserved to advance?"
The essence of these questions, of course, represents the second half of the present bias toward the cognitive-behavioral therapies. In other words, these questions typify the behavioral entry into the therapeutic process and ask, "How does what have learned in life about how people advance or about how people get along affect your behavior?"
The therapist's goal? To improve the man's functioning by eliminating his "dysfunctional behaviors."
And the assumed outcome?
That if his "dysfunctional behaviors" were eliminated, that he would be more likely to advance. And that by achieving his rightful place in his life, that he would, indeed, feel more confident and be happier.
Yes and no. We'll address the two conflicting sides of these assumptions in a moment.
the Psycho Medical View
So how would the approach of psycho medical therapists differ from those who use the psycho functional approach?
Psycho medical therapists would probably begin therapy by looking at any symptoms present. Thus, they might look at this man's low self worth, chronic feelings of depression, feelings of inadequacy, and feelings of self doubt. They would then explore these symptoms in a historical context, looking for some "origin" or "cause" for these painful feelings, in all likelihood, some childhood event to which to attribute these feelings.
In order to do this, they might ask this man things like, "How did your parents treat you when you felt down about school?" or "How did your father feel about his career?" Or, "Did anyone in your childhood encourage you to do better?" or "Did your father ever advance in his career?"
Other therapists in this category might ask things like, "How did you feel about your father's career or about the fact that your mother did not work?" Or, "Did you ever feel anyone appreciated you for who you were?" "Did anyone, in fact, ever really know you?"
The essence of these questions, of course, represents the first half of the present bias in psychotherapy; the bias toward the cognitive-behavioral model. In essence, these questions typify the cognitive entry into the primary therapeutic process and ask, what did you learn during your lifetime about "self-confidence?" And what did you feel about what you learned?
And the therapist's goal?
To reshape and restructure this man's inner thoughts and feelings so as to relieve him of his feelings of low self confidence. Said in other words, the therapist's goal would be to eliminate this man's "symptoms."
Of course, the assumption underlying this goal would be that by eliminating this man's symptoms, and of course, by uncovering their source, that this man's life would improve.
So would it? Again, yes and no. More on this in a moment.