Do we change or evolve between lives? That we do is a belief that goes back to the classical Greeks in Western culture. Plato believed that there was 1000 years between lives, during which time we did penance for our sins before reincarnating. But many investigated cases of past-life memory suggest that this may not be true and that we make the most progress while embodied, not between lives.
Wijeratne was a Sri Lankan boy born with a stunted right arm which he blamed on his having used his arm to kill a girl to whom he was betrothed when she decided against going through with her marriage with him. The man whose life Wijeratne recalled had been tried for the crime, found guilty, and hung, 18 ½ years before Wijeratne was born. But Wijeratne had not made peace with his crime during this period. He spent much of his youth in and out of mental hospitals, diagnosed with schizophrenia, the episodes brought on by contact with young women he identified with the woman he had killed in his previous life. Eventually he did work through his conflicts, however, and settled down into a happy marriage.
A Burmese girl who was born with a severe case of ichthyosis, or plaque psoriasis, recalled the life of another girl afflicted by the same disease. This girl had recalled the life of a monk who had died in a monastery fire. The girl who was the subject of the case believed that she had carried over the disease because she had not come to terms with it. She determined to do that in her present life, and the condition gradually lessened, to the point she believed it would not reoccur in her next life.
Young children often display personality traits and behaviors related to the previous life when young, then grow away from them later. So it seems that the intermission period may not be a time when we necessarily grow and change, despite what we often hear. It appears that it can happen, though, perhaps depending on the individual. I have heard of an Indian case in which a man had a series of dreams about a friend who died tragically in an auto accident. In these dreams, his friend told him that was now healed and was ready to return as his son. That has not yet happened, so we don’t know whether these are true announcing dreams or not.
Individual variation might explain why we see influences from past lives carried forward more profoundly in some cases than others and is another indication that reincarnation is fundamentally a psychological process.