It is Vienna at the beginning of the last century, and Dr Max Liebermann is a young psychoanalyst - and disciple of Freud. Psychoanalysis is only just developing and viewed with a mixture of excitement and suspicion. The world of 1900s Vienna is one where philosophy, science and art are at their most exciting and flourishing, with the coffee shops full of men and women debating the latest cultural and political theories.
Liebermann's good friend Oskar Rheinhardt is a Detective Inspector - hard working, but lacking Liebermann's insights and forensic eye and so it is through Rheinhardt that Libermann is called upon to help with police investigations surrounding the death of a beautiful young medium, in what seems at first to be supernatural circumstances. While Liebermann attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, he also must decide whether he is to follow his father's advice and marry the beautiful but reserved Clara.